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

Barge Cleaning Operations » Flammable and Combustible Cargo Barges


Flammable and combustible cargo barge cleaning is the process of removing residual cargo and cleaning the 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 typically includes:

Each of these steps include many of the same hazards. The most important hazards are to due flammable materials, and inhalation or skin contact from chemical exposures. It is important to address Hazard Communication [29 CFR 1915.1200], personal protective equipment [29 CFR 1915 Subpart I], and the exposure limits in 29 CFR 1915 Subpart Z. These hazards should be evaluated throughout the barge cleaning process.

Typical cargoes carried by tank barges, which may expose workers, include but are not limited to:

Additional Resources:

  • NIOSH Pocket Guide
  • NFPA 306, Control of Gas Hazards on Vessels. National Fire Protection Association.
  • 33 CFR, Subpart 154 - Facilities Transferring Oil or Hazardous Materials in Bulk. This regulation is available on-line through the GPO Access website.
    • 154.735 - Safety Requirements. U.S. Coast Guard. This regulation allows for the incorporation of the International Safety Guide for Oil Tankers & Terminals (ISGOTT) guide for tank cleaning under 33 CFR 154.735(s)(1-3).
  • OCIMF International Safety Guide for Oil Tankers & Terminals. International Chamber of Shipping (ICS). This document outlines the international standard for cleaning tanks.
  • Safety Guidelines For Tank Vessel Cleaning Facilities. American Waterways Shipyard Conference. This guideline was created by the American Waterways Shipyard Conference (AWSC). AWSC merged with the Shipbuilders Council of America (SCA) in 1999.

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
Figure 1: Mooring the barge and standing away from the edge
Figure 1: Mooring the barge and standing away from the edge.

Figure 2: Barge in the process of mooring up
Figure 2: Barge in the process of mooring up.

Includes securing the barge, reviewing the structural plan of the vessel, preventing static discharge, connecting hoses, ballasting, and identifying hazardous materials.

The following safety and health information should be reviewed:

Figure 3: Connecting grounding static charge prevention
Figure 3: Connecting grounding static charge prevention.

Figure 4: Barge grounding clamp and cable
Figure 4: Barge grounding clamp and cable.

Figure 5: Barge grounding clamp and cable
Figure 5: Barge grounding clamp and cable.

Figure 6: Mail box on barge for MSDS information
Figure 6: Mailbox on barge for MSDS information.

Figure 7: Workers reviewing MSDS information before work begins
Figure 7: Workers reviewing MSDS information before work begins.

Figure 8: Shipyard Competent Person (SCP) checking atmosphere prior to entry
Figure 8: Shipyard Competent Person (SCP) checking atmosphere prior to entry.

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Step 2: Setup for Cleaning
Figure 9: Access to walkway to barge
Figure 9: Access to walkway to barge.

Figure 10: Access ramp to barge
Figure 10: Access ramp to barge.

Figure 11: Releasing pressure and opening cover
Figure 11: Releasing pressure and opening cover.

Includes setting up cleaning equipment, opening covers and manholes, and visually inspecting tanks from the outside.

The following safety and health information should be reviewed:

Additional Resources:

Figure 12: Opening cover after pressure released
Figure 12: Opening cover after pressure release.

Figure 13: Part of a butterworth nozzle used for tank cleaning
Figure 13: Part of a butterworth nozzle used for tank washing.

Figure 14: Fire station
Figure 14: Fire station.

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Step 3: Cleaning
Figure 15: Confined space log
Figure 15: Confined Space Log.

Figure 16: Corpus blower with proper guards and grounded with alligator clip ventilating fuel tank
Figure 16: Corpus blower with proper guards and grounded with alligator clip ventilating fuel tank.

Includes the cleaning processes, such as tank washing, pumping of residues, ventilating for entry, entry procedures, hand-cleaning in tanks, and cleaning of piping and pumps.

The following safety and health information should be reviewed:

Figure 17: Butterworth nozzle used for tank cleaning
Figure 17: Butterworth nozzle used for tank cleaning.

Figure 18: Butterworth nozzle used for tank cleaning
Figure 18: Butterworth nozzle used for tank cleaning.

Figure 19: Entering fuel barge tank
Figure 19: Entering fuel barge tank.

Figure 20: Entering fuel barge tank
Figure 20: Entering fuel barge tank.

Figure 21: Tank entry and hold watch
Figure 21: Tank entry and hold watch.

Figure 22: Washing barge tank
Figure 22: Washing barge tank.

Figure 23: Squeeging product in tank to one area for suction
Figure 23: Squeegee product in tank to one area for suction.

Figure 24: Worker hooking up suction hose
Figure 24: Worker hooking up suction hose.

Figure 25: Blower venting a tank
Figure 25: Blower venting a tank.

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Step 4: Completion
Figure 26: Suction hose properly stored out of the way
Figure 26: Suction hose properly stored out of the way.

Figure 27: Final inspection
Figure 27: Final inspection.

Barge void space hatch being opened or closed
Figure 28: Barge void space hatch being opened or closed.

Includes obtaining gas free/product certifications if necessary, final inspection, equipment removal and closing up the barge (closing of butterworth and manhole lids).

The following safety and health information should be reviewed:

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