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Working Near Water Guidelines

Legislation For Operatives Working In Water Environments

Code Of Guidance For Working On Over Or Near Water

Guidelines as published by Health And Safety For HS-4.co.uk

This Code of Guidance provides information in respect of UK health and safety during work activities on, over or near inland and inshore waters. It covers the hazards likely to be met, the legal requirements and the precautions that need to be taken to ensure  UK health and safety standards are met. The guidance is set out as follows:
1.0 General
2.0 Legal Requirements
3.0 Hazards
4.0 Precautionary Measures


All work activities will present a range of health and safety issues that need to be properly managed. The basic principles involve the identification of hazards, assessment of risks, designing safe systems of work, ensuring the workforce are properly trained, equipped and supervised, and having appropriate procedures in place.

When work has to be carried out on or in the vicinity of water several additional hazards are introduced that must be very carefully evaluated and controlled.

Legal Requirements
The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 applies to all workplaces and work activities. This sets out the general duties of employers towards their employees and members of the public, and the duties employees have to themselves and to each other. Although work on or near water is not mentioned specifically, employers are required to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health safety and welfare at work of their employees, and any other persons who might be affected; provide a safe working environment; health and safety training, instruction and supervision; and any necessary protective clothing and equipment. This therefore applies to water safety!

Employees are required to take reasonable care for their own health and safety and that of others who may be affected; co-operate with their employer in matters of health and safety; report dangerous situations; and make proper use of the safety equipment provided.

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 require employers to carry out suitable and sufficient assessments of risk to employees and others who might be affected by work activities, and to put in place appropriate risk control measures. Consequently all aspects of the work will need to be considered during the risk assessment process, including the hazards presented by working on or near water.
The Construction (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1996 require employers engaged in construction work to take reasonably practical measures to prevent persons falling into water; to minimise the risk of drowning in the event of a fall into water; and to provide suitable rescue equipment and training in the use of it. Also, the transportation by water to or from work sites must be done safely; and any vessels used should be suitable, properly maintained, under the control of a competent person and not overcrowded or overloaded.
In addition to the above, the Merchant Shipping Acts, and related Regulations and Codes of Practice would apply to passenger carrying crafts, workboats, pontoons, lifebuoys etc. Merchant Shipping Legislation is administered by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA).


Any workplace over, on or near water presents a danger that persons might slip or fall into the water, be swept off their feet by wave action, tide action, strong currents or swell from passing water traffic. Adverse weather is also a factor that can increase the danger, and work conditions can change quickly. Whether or not a person is injured by falling in the water, there is an immediate risk of drowning and/or being carried away by water currents.
Sound precautions must be taken, firstly to prevent persons entering the water and, secondly, if the worst happens, to ensure that they will float and are rescued in the shortest possible time. A standby rescue boat allows in water rescue in the shortest possible time.  It is essential, when working on or near water that safe systems of work are in place based on a thorough risk assessment and that staff are properly trained and instructed.

When working on or near water consideration must also be given to the health implications of falls into the water. The water may possibly be polluted, for example when working near sewage discharge points, and there is the ever-present risk of contracting leptospirosis (or Weil’s disease) from water contaminated by rat urine. 

Causes of Entry into water
These include:
• Falls from height
• Trips, slips, stumbles from low level
• Persons being knocked over by moving objects (e.g. crane loads, vehicles, etc.)
• Loss of balance (e.g. by high winds, sudden boat movements, etc.)
• Failure or absence of edge barriers
• Failure or absence of fall prevention equipment, ropes, lines.
• Floating platforms or vessels sinking.
• Tide action, waves or swell from passing waterborne traffic.


Hazards of Falling into Water
The most immediate danger is of drowning. Factors that can contribute to this are:
• Shock from sudden immersion in cold water
• Weight of waterlogged clothing
• Life jacket not being worn
• Incapacity following injury – caused by striking an object during a fall, or whilst in the water.
• Fatigue or hypothermia where rescue is not immediate.


Safety/rescue boats
Platforms, edges, gangways etc.
Whenever reasonably practicable fixed edge protection must be provided to prevent people falling into water.
Where edge barriers are not reasonably practicable at exposed edges, e.g. quay edges, appropriate warning signs and/or edge markings should be displayed to highlight the danger.

Work Outside Of Edge Barriers
Safety Boat Required. Safety Nets can provide good fall protection for those carrying out occasional work outside edge barriers e.g. maintenance activities. An alternative is the use of a full body harness attached by lanyard to a suitable anchorage point or proprietary fall prevention anchorage system. Such equipment needs to be carefully selected by a competent person to ensure it is suitable for the task, checked and maintained to ensure it is kept in good order and the users instructed and trained in its use. Emergency rescue arrangements also need to be in place.

Work from Mobile Elevating Work Platforms
Safety Boat Required. When working next to water, a harness should not be worn due to the risk of drowning if the work platform falls into the water. Life jackets should be worn.
Workplace Tidiness
This is of special importance when working on or near water. Tools, equipment, ropes and other materials not in use should be stored away. Waste should be cleared up promptly, and materials stacked or positioned with care.
Slippery surfaces increase the risk of people falling into water and must be properly treated to ensure good grip. Water weed, slime, bird droppings etc. should be cleaned off. Oily or greasy surfaces should have absorbent granules or grit spread on them, and icy or frosty surfaces should be treated with salt or grit.
Weather Conditions
The prevailing conditions and local weather forecast should be taken into account at the beginning of each shift. Rain, rising winds, fog, mist, etc. are all potential dangers.

Protective Clothing and Equipment
Where the work presents a risk of people being struck on the head then safety helmets must be worn. Such an injury prior to falling into water is a significant risk. Footwear with good, non-slip soles should be worn when working on or near water. Rubber boots should not be worn as, once filled, they act as a weight and could drag the wearer under water.
Life Jacket
This is a personal safety device which, when fully inflated (if inflatable), will provide sufficient buoyancy to turn and support even an unconscious person face upwards. These must be worn at all times whilst working on boats and where there is a foreseeable risk of drowning when working near to water. Those using life jackets need to be trained and instructed in their proper use and storage, and the equipment regularly inspected and maintained.

Rescue Equipment
Standby rescue boat including Solas safety equipment. MCA approved lifebuoys or rescue lines should be positioned at intervals along the work area. Daily checks must be made to ensure that lifebuoys and lines are in their proper place.
Work Boats and Vessels

These must meet MCA requirements in terms of their construction, use, equipment, (including safety, communication and rescue equipment) and the competence of the operator. In most circumstances it will be necessary to provide a rescue boat standing by during work activities on or near water.For example work near tidal water or fast flowing rivers. Practice exercises in respect of rescuing people from the water will need to be carried out.

Rescue Procedure

It is important that:
Lone working is avoided to ensure there is always someone to raise the alarm.
Each person is trained in what to do in the event of an emergency.
An emergency rescue plan is in place for the work activity. The elements of a rescue procedure consists of:
• A routine for raising the alarm.
• A drill to provide the rescue boat facilities.
• A routine for getting the rescued person(s) appropriate medical assistance. ie all rescue boat skippers to hold HSE first aid at work.
Rescue procedures need to be practised at regular intervals involving all persons who would be required to participate in a rescue.

The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
The Construction (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1996
The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992



The above guidelines conclude that a company or organisation acting responsibly will require a rescue boat to fulfill their health and safety obligations with regards to their workers working on, above or near water.

Failure to do so and should the worst happen may result in negligence. 

Diving And Safety Boat Hire Contractors - Diving And Rescue Boat Services

Specialist Commercial Diving And Marine Services

Commercial Diving And Safety Boat Hire

Safety BoatsUnderwater Services - Rescue RIBs - Marine Services

 Welcome to Diving And Safety Boat Hire Contractors the UK's first choice for commercial diving, vessel hire and specialist marine services.

Diving And Safety Boat Hire Contractors are a specialist marine provider of commercial diving, marine and safety boat services to the inshore and offshore sectors across the United Kingdom.
Diving And Safety Boat Hire Contractors services include:

Diving Contractors

Safety Boat Hire

Crew Transfer Boats

Tug And Tow Boat Rentals

Work Boat Leasing And Hire

Diving Services

Rescue RIBs And Rescue Boat Services

Safety Boat Services

MCA Coded And Commercially Endorsed Vessels

Underwater Services

Rescue Boat Srevices

Confined Space and Difficult Access Services

Roped Access

Support Boats

Marine Construction

Nationwide Safety Boat Hire

Safety Boat Hire And Safety Boat Services

Diving And Safety Boat Hire Contractors are a leading commercial work boat and safety boat operator providing rescue RIBs, work vessels, safety boats and marine safety services within Scotland, England and Wales.

Our fleet of MCA coded safety boats and rescue RIBs have been passed as highly stable craft by the Maritime And Coastguard Agency making them ideal for any rescue operation. All our safety boats are Solas safety equipped and available with fully qualified crew.

 Diving And Safety Boat Hire Contractors
 safety boats are available for hire at short notice to assist with any construction, scaffolding or civil engineering projects. In addition we are well placed and regularly provide safety cover and assistance for sporting, media, entertainment, filming and event management projects.

Diving And Safety Boat Hire Contractors provide safety boat cover in accordance with uk rescue boat regulations and approved rescue boat codes of practice.

Our water safety services department provide rescue boat operations and safety boats for any demanding marine environment including inshore shallows or difficult offshore locations.

Safety Boat Hire - Work Boat Leasing - Rescue RIBs

Diving And Safety Boat Hire Contractors provide small rescue boat inflatables and safety boats with minimal draft to assist with protecting workmen who are working on projects near or over shallow waters with difficult access. 

Our larger craft are fast manoeuvrable RIBs making them ideal for rescue and safety boat operations in open water.


 Diving And Safety Boat Hire Contractors inshore and offshore maritime services operate a variety of safety boats and crew transfer vessels throughout the U.K.  

Diving And Safety Boat Hire Contractors offer very competitive prices for work, rescue and safety boat hire services in the UK.



Professional Diving And Commercial Diving Contractors 

Diving And Safety Boat Hire Contractors commercial diving and marine services are co-ordinated by highly skilled commercial divers and underwater specialists who have a sound understanding of any diving and marine environments, with unrivalled experience and know how in marine and commercial diving operations including civil and marine engineering, subsea inspections,  inland and coastal waterways, bridges and culverts, underwater research and construction, shipping, oil gas and renewable energy sectors.

Commercial Diving Contractors Providing Diving Services From Man Riding Basket For Underwater Services

Diving And Safety Boat Hire Contractors engage the latest marine technology and equipment available for any diving and marine engineering projects and can provide professional commercial dive teams for as long as any marine project requires.




Confined Spaces Entry And Confined Space Rescue

Diving And Safety Boat Hire Contractors are a professional confined space entry and access contractor offering confined space access and confined space entry services for surveys,inspections, maintenance, repairs, cleaning and construction.

U.K. confined spaces regulations 1997 

The UK Health and Safety confined space regulations 1997 state:

"confined Space" means any place, including any chamber, tank, vat, silo, pit, trench, pipe, sewer, flue, wall or other similar space in which, by virtue of its enclosed nature, there arises a reasonably foreseeable specified risk.

 Diving And Safety Boat Hire Contractors confined space entry and confined space access personnel are all certified in confined spaces rescue procedures and BA sets in addition to any technical or engineering qualifications.



Marine Security

Diving And Safety Boat Hire Contractors are specialist marine and maritime security experts providing 24 Hr high level marine security cover for any purpose nationwide.

Marine Security Services And Safety Boats

All our marine security personnel are ex military and current working commercial divers.

Our marine security guards will patrol all water boundaries and if necessary engage with our fast manoeuvrable power boats both day and night.



Please feel free to contact Diving And Safety Boat Hire Contractors for a friendly chat and any advice on our safety boat and diving services.






30/07/17 Thames Safety Boat Services

We are operating safety boat hire services in central London on the river Thames. Our safety boats are equipped with the latest safety and rescue equipment as required under the Port Of London Authority PLA. Our crews all hold commercially endorsed certification and our vessels are licensed under the PLA.


For further information on Safety Boat Hire Services commercial divers and safety boat hire services please visit our main home page or contact a friendly member of our maritime services or underwater services team.

Safety Boat Hire Services are a SAFETY first marine contractor delivering any project on time and on budget SAFELY 

















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