General Working Conditions >> Vessel Radar and Communication Systems

Vessel RADAR (Radio Detecting and Ranging ) and communication systems produce electromagnetic emissions that can cause human tissue (for example, skin, organ) damage from thermal heating. Their operation can also cause metal wires or ropes (such as crane or derrick cable) to become electrically energized. Workers touching an energized antenna or working in close proximity can receive an electrical shock. In addition, employees could be struck by rotating radar systems when working in their vicinity.

Figure 1: Unless radar and communication systems are secured to prevent emissions, workers are exposed to skin burns, electrical shock and organ damage; also rotating equipment can cause falls or amputations

Potential Hazards

  • Skin burns, organ damage, and electrical shock caused by overexposure to radar and communication systems radiation.
  • Falls from elevation caused by rotating/moving equipment.

Requirements and Example Solutions

  • The servicing of vessel radar and communication systems must be conducted in accordance with 29 CFR 1915.89, Control of Hazardous Energy (29 CFR 1915.85(a)).
  • Vessel radar and communication systems must be secured so they are incapable of energizing or emitting radiation before any employee begins work on or in the vicinity of the system (29 CFR 1915.85(b)(1)).
  • Systems equipped with a dummy load must be secured from energizing before work is performed on or in the vicinity of the system (29 CFR 1915.85(b)(2)).
  • Work aloft is prohibited during the operation or testing of vessel radar and communication systems. One exception exists where authorized servicing, repair, or testing of a system is solely taking place and workers maintain the manufacturer's specified safe minimum distance for the type, model, and power of the equipment. (29 CFR 1915.85(b)(3) and (c)).

Potential Hazards

Fall hazards are a leading cause of shipyard fatalities. Shipyard employees are often required to work in dangerous environments that may include fall hazards. Accidents involving elevation equipment such as ladders and scaffolds are often serious, even fatal. Falls may occur:

  • From ladders
  • From scaffolds
  • From open deck edges
  • Into open holes
Figure 3: Radar platform properly guarded

Requirements and Example Solutions

Guarding of Deck Openings and Edges

  • Deck openings and edges must be guarded. [29 CFR 1915.73]
  • Flush manholes and other small openings must be guarded after opening. [29 CFR 1915.73(b)]
  • During the installation of guards on large openings and deck edges, fall protection (such as a harness with lanyard) must be used. [29 CFR 1915.73(d)]
  • When floor plates or gratings are removed, for example, in bilges, engine rooms, pump rooms, machinery spaces, the openings must be guarded or planked. [29 CFR 1915.73(f)]
Figure 4: Properly guarded scaffold surrounding radio mast

Fall Protection for Scaffold Work

  • Guardrails or other appropriate fall protection shall be used when working on scaffolds 5 feet above surfaces. [29 CFR 1915.71(j)]
  • Fall protection must be used during the installation of guardrails on scaffolds. [29 CFR 1915.73(d)]