What is Risk Assessment and how it is done Onboard ? |

What is Risk Assessment and how it is done Onboard ?

Risk Assessment is a thinking and planning tool used to enhance the decision making process, taking into account the dangers and risks present in day-to-day operation, with particular emphasis on operations that are out of the ordinary or complicated.

  • RISK is a combination of the probability that a harmful event will occur, and the severity of the consequences of that incident.
  • The consequence of a harmful event or incident may impact on a number of areas
    • The health and safety of anyone associated with the ships operation – the crew, contractors, terminal staff, pilots and the public, living or working nearby who may have nothing whatsoever to do with the vessel.
    • The environmental Impact (e.g. pollution, noxious gas clouds, noise etc.) and the costs of clean up.
    • The damage to property – i.e. the direct costs of repairs to the ship, together with any additional Third Party claims for damage to terminal installations, other vessels, disruption of public services, etc.
    • The financial impact – i.e. the costs to the company in dealing with the aftermath of the incident, bad publicity, loss of business, etc., which could ultimately cause the demise of the Company.

 The overall risk factor for any given scenario can fall into three following categories:-

  • High risk – Operation in this area is only by the express and written consent of the  senior management ashore.
  • Moderate risk – Operations may be conducted but a constant monitoring of events is to be maintained and all identified preventative and mitigating measures confirmed as being in place.
  • Low risk – Operations can be conducted as a matter of routine. They are to be reviewed at intervals.

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When to carry out a Risk Assessment

Risk Assessments are to be conducted whenever an activity which is:

  1. Known to be hazardous, from your experience, training or plain common sense.
  2. Unusual, abnormal or requires significant departure from normal routines.

List of Work that requires risk assessment, which by no means is exhaustive:

  • Hot Work in enclosed space/ deck
  • Entry into enclosed spaces
  • The malfunctioning of (or any work which requires disabling of) critical systems, such as steering, inert gas, alarm systems, fire fighting or lifesaving appliances, etc.
  • Working on live electrical circuits
  • Working on piping or systems, sections of which contain stored energy (pneumatic, hydraulic or spring loaded pressure)
  • Working on piping or systems, sections of which contain potentially harmful or hazardous fluids.
  • Undertaking major maintenance / repair / renewal jobs
  •  Movement, removal or replacement of heavy items such as cylinder heads, pistons, liners, large pumps or motors, pipelines, etc
  • Diving (or internal work) on underwater shipside connections (e.g. pipelines & valves).
  • Critical areas of navigation, including shallow water, Sensitive Areas and difficult night passages.
  •  Loading unusual cargoes (may be detrimental to health or the ship). 
  • Inadequate berthing / mooring / terminal facilities.
  • Discovery of cracks, cargo ingress into non-cargo spaces, etc.
  • Rescue and Salvage operations.
  • At any other time or operation considered appropriate by Shipboard Management.
  • When directed by Shore Management.

It should also be noted that many of these events would require input and assistance from Shore Management.

Since Risk Assessments depend on the individual ship type, the nature and frequency of the operation concerned, and the competency of the crew involved, even for seemingly similar tasks, a risk assessment carried out on one vessel may not be wholly applicable to another.

From a practical point of view, Risk Assessments are best commenced well before the job is to be carried out, and then reviewed and improved upon, prior taking up the task concerned.

 Once made out, the risk assessment for the particular task should be maintained in a Risk Assessment File and revisited before and after taking up the named task. Any new hazards identified and/or any fresh mitigation developed, should be added to the original listing. Maintaining a soft copy of Risk Assessments will allow easy editing and quick accessibility. In this manner, the risk assessment for a particular job will be updated and improved upon, and readily available for the crew’s reference.


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