Staying Safe on the Southern Ocean
U.S. Antarctic Program - Vessel Science & Operations Section United States Antarctic Program United States Antarctic Program Logo National Science Foundation Logo
 
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General Shipboard Safety Rules

Always remember to let someone know where you will be at all times. Your disappearance for several hours can cause alarm if you don't let someone know your whereabouts. Letting someone know is especially important if you will be in an unfrequented area, for example, working in a lab van or taking a tour of the Engine Room.

Don't go out on deck alone at night or in rough weather. If something does happen, these conditions make it almost impossible to find someone who has fallen over the side.

Wear sensible clothing:

  • Shoes with non-skid soles are recommended, especially on deck. Sandals of any kind are not safe.
  • Wear a hat, sunglasses, and sunblock if you are working long hours outside. The levels of harmful UV radiation are much higher in Antarctica and at sea than elsewhere.

Be aware of watertight doors. These doors may swing from the ship's motion and can cause injury. Keep hands and fingers clear. And always be sure to secure all watertight doors by securely latching (dogging) them.

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Deck Safety

Non-essential personnel are to stay clear of all deck operations. During coring and similar over-the-side operations, all personnel must vacate the decks in the vicinity of the wire under load and the winch being used for the operation.

Be aware that lines and wires can part under tension. Do not stand under or near a line or wire while it is under a strain. Never stand in the bight of a line or under a load that is being hoisted.

Working on a moving platform is often dangerous, and requires the attention of everyone to maintain a safe operation. The following rules must be followed when working on deck or in a small boat.

  • Wear a float suit, float coat, work vest or other type of personal flotation device when working in a Zodiac® boat or other small boat, or on the ice.
  • If the stern gates are open, workers in the "yellow zone" must wear a safety belt and line attached to the rail or other secure point.
  • Wear a safety harness when working over the side, and a hard hat for overhead work such as crane operations.
  • Follow all directions of the winch operator or Zodiac boat driver. They are responsible for your safety.
  • Always notify the bridge before deploying any gear, and do so again when the operation is complete.
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Ship Maneuvers

Whenever the ship is docking or casting off, all non-essential personnel are to stay clear of the Bridge, weather deck areas forward of the superstructure, and the aft working deck. When doing Zodiac Operations stay clear of the aft working deck as well unless you are part of the operation.

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Safety Equipment

The ARSV Laurence M. Gould and RVIB Nathaniel B. Palmer both have safety equipment such as emergency eye wash stations, spill control centers, and first-aid kits located around the labs. Life jackets and exposure suits are located in each cabin. Extra life jackets and exposure suits are located in  the labs and other work areas.

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Curator: Esther L. Hill PhD, Antarctic Support Contract   |   NSF Official: Tim McGovern/Alexandra Isern, Division of Polar Programs