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Shipyard Employment eTool: Barge Cleaning Operations
General Requirements Shipbuilding Ship Repair Shipbreaking Barge Cleaning

Barge Cleaning Operations » Dry Bulk Cargo Barges


Figure 1: Bulk material in barge
Figure 1: Bulk material in barge.

Dry bulk cargo barge cleaning is the process of removing residual cargo and cleaning the spaces (such as hoppers or holds) and/or tanks on the barge in order to load a new or different cargo, inspect, or repair. Cleaning may be conducted on a barge while at a pier, in a drydock, while beached, or at anchor.  The cleaning process normally includes:

Each of these steps include many of the same hazards. These hazards should be evaluated throughout the barge cleaning process.

Typical cargoes carried by dry bulk cargo barges include:

  • Grain and grain products
  • Coal
  • Petroleum coke
  • Fertilizer
  • Scrap metal
  • Ores
  • Aggregate (rock, cement, sand, gravel)

Cleaning typically consists of:

  • Mechanical (such as front-end loaders, cranes, buckets, and vacuums) or manual (such as push brooms, wheelbarrows, buckets, shovels) removal of residual cargo,
  • Washing of holds and/or tanks with hoses, and
  • Removal of wash water with pumps and/or siphons.

Note: Confined space entry is one of the leading hazards associated with barge cleaning. Review the Ship Repair: Confined or Enclosed Spaces and Other Dangerous Atmospheres chapter for information on how to protect workers from this hazard.



Step 1: Pre-Planning and Preparing to Clean
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Step 2: Setup for Cleaning
Figure 5: Barge with work barge along side
Figure 5: Barge with work barge along side.

Figure 6: Working barge with vacuum bottles
Figure 6: Working barge with vacuum bottles.

Figure 7: Scrap in barge hold
Figure 7: Scrap in barge hold.

Includes setting up cleaning equipment, opening covers and/or manholes, visually inspecting spaces (such as hoppers or holds) from the outside, and providing adequate access.

The following safety and health information should be reviewed:

Additional Resources:

  • 29 CFR 1918 Subpart E, Opening and Closing Hatches. Note: This reference is for informational purposes only and is not required in Shipyard Employment.
  • 29 CFR 1918.65, Mechanically-powered vehicles used aboard vessels. Note: This reference is for informational purposes only and is not required in Shipyard Employment.
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Step 3: Cleaning
Figure 10: Front-end loader in barge hold
Figure 10: Front-end loader in barge hold.

Figure 8: Bulk material in barge hold
Figure 8: Bulk material in barge hold.

Figure 9: Brooms and hoses in barge hold
Figure 9: Brooms and hoses in barge hold.

Includes mechanical and manual removal of residual cargo and washing barge cargo hold, and sampling of wash water, as required by permit. When operating equipment with internal combustion engines, it is important to maintain adequate ventilation to prevent carbon monoxide build-up.

The following safety and health information should be reviewed:

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Step 4: Completion
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