Almost Anything Marine - Service & Sales


Working Safely

This is one of the most important aspects of everyday life, and not just for boating.

Im not talking here of flares or bailing equipment . They are still as important for safety, but what i will talk about here is working safely when maintaining and working on our boats.  Our own personal safety while we are working on our boats so that we are able to enjoy what we set out to achieve.

I think that in this modern society we have placed to much emphasis on "blame somebody else" for my own actions when it all goes wrong.

But blaming someone else wont fix your broken back, or the eye you lost because you did the wrong thing in the first place. All it does is makes the legal proffessionals rich , while you still suffer the injury.  Working safe really comes back to you to think the whole thing through and take responsibility for your own safety.  Apply the principal of " If it looks unsafe- it most likely is unsafe" and take action to make it safe or find a safe way to do the job.

I come from an industry where safety has really evolved from just putting up a few rails or signs , to a complete mental thinking of how we go about jobs and recognising potential hazards and dangers before we get hurt , and managing these hazards to completely eliminate them . Its also about reducing and eliminating potential harm to ourselves by using correct and adequate protective equipment , or PPE as it is commonly referred to.

Before starting a job , no matter how small , i want you all to just step back for a few moments and look and think about the task you are going to do .  Ask yourself if there is anything you may trip over , can you fall off anything?, am i using anything that can harm me by contact or breathing the fumes?, and if there is , what PPE should i wear to protect myself?, are the tools suitable for the job and are they in a safe useable condition?.  Just take the time to think every step through and be sure its safe to do. IF ITS NOT SAFE WHEN YOU HAVE GIVEN IT SOME THOUGHT..THEN MAKE IT SAFE!!.    Your life depends on it.!.

Ten seconds of thoughtlessness can lead to a lifetime of misery. 

After all , if you have injured yourself , you cant go boating and we have defeated the whole purpose of what we are doing in the first place. A severe injury can also stop us from carrying out our regular job and doing all the things we enjoy .  Not only do you suffer from the injury, but so does our family and friends .

 If you need to reach a high spot , use a proper ladder, or tressles and planks , not a drum or a box. If you fall what may happen ?, a broken leg or arm, a broken back? or worse still a severe head injury?.

Im sure weve been guilty of doing something unsafe. We were just lucky we got away with it that time . But everyday somewhere theres a person in a hospital emergency ward  who didnt get away with it. Please dont become one of them.

So please just take a few minutes to have a good think about the job you are going to do and its potential risks and take action to eliminate or control the risk BEFORE you start the job.   I would like to see and hear you all having a good time on the water .

I am also going to talk further here on some of the simple things we can do to protect ourselves.

The most important  item is safety glasses.  These can be bought at Safety and Industrial supply outlets as well as just about any hardware shop and are inexpensive .  Or if you are like me and need glasses to see properly , talk to your optometrist and get your lenses made to safety standards then you have permanent protection no matter where you are .  Even if you get them made in the new transition styles that will be an even better option .

It will cost extra for the lenses, but then what value do you put on your sight?.

Wear your safety glasses at ALL times you are working.  Sanding, hammering, buffing, grinding, painting , using glues and resins and just being around anyone else working means there is a very real potential for an object to end up in your eye.  And if it hits with speed or force its going to do considerable damage to your eyes.  Make sure you and everyone else with you has them and wears them.  

The next thing is gloves . There are different types for different uses.  The main thing is to use them !.  Coming in contact with paints , thinners , and glues and resins is actually harmfull to us , so we need to put a barrier between ourselves and them , and gloves are the barrier . But be sure they are the right ones . We wouldnt use cotton gloves to handle resins as it goes right through.  I use latex gloves , a bit like the ones a Doctor uses when handling fibreglass and epoxy resins quite successfully and just throw them away after use as they are inexpensive . Ive seen these type for sale in most supermarkets as well.

Remember a lot of marine paints contain products such as lead and cyanide, and many resins and glues are a concoction of noxious chemicals , so avoid skin contact as much as possible.

Respirators are also an important safety item .  They are very important when sanding surfaces such as fibreglass, epoxy and painted surfaces.  They should also be used when sanding and grinding wood as some woods themselves contain harmfull resins in their sap as well as some have been chemically treated, so its best not to breathe the dust at all. The "dust mask" type are generally suitable for this and they are available also from Safety outlets and Hardware shops .

A respirator is also important when handing 2 pack paints and thinners . Be sure to have the right one for what you are using and ask advice on the correct type from where you buy the product from or obtain the manufacturers data sheets.

Long sleeve shirts and long pants are also a good idea as they help stop dust and other material getting on our skin.

A good tip is when your are working with fibreglass and fibreglass products when grinding , sanding and generally handling fibreglass and epoxy and reinforcements is to use disposable overalls . These are reasonably priced and available also from Safety shops and Hardware stores.

You can get covered in fibreglass , then when you are finished just carefully remove them and throw them away . This keeps the fibre out of your clothes and skin . No more itchy nights in bed or sticky arms and legs from resins.

The bottom line is that we should always step back for a few minutes, look at the job, think the job through and remove or control any risks or hazards and take the time to know any associated risks or hazards of any substance you may be going to use and apply the proper controls for them. 

As i have aready said, owning a boat is useless to us if we are laying in hospital all broken up or poisoned , or worse still ...dead?.

Please think safety first and stay safe .