January 21, 2022
Ferry Facts: Confined Space Training
Confined Space Training Held This Week
At the Cape May-Lewes Ferry, we're known for our open decks, fresh breezes, and the experience we provide for passengers to take deep breaths of outdoor bay air while traveling between ports. But to make all that happen, our own teams of marine, vessel maintenance and marine engineering frequently need to do work in confined spaces throughout the boats. This past week -- January 18 and 19 -- a team of Ferry co-workers attended two-days of basic and refresher trainings here in Cape May to update our own skills for analyzing and maintaining the safety of confined work spaces on our ferries and docks.
Since this type of work is most commonly done at shipyards, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) developed a safety training program called the Shipyard Competent Person Program. It details required instruction that certifies personnel in ensuring work areas are safe for those working in and around confined spaces on ships. The OSHA training also pertains to vessel operators and applies to all confined spaces that personnel may need to enter, or where hot work is performed. Hot work is defined by OSHA as riveting, welding, or any other operations that can produce similar types fire or sparks.
Supplementing the OSHA requirements, the Ferry has its own Standard Operating Procedure (SOP SE-05) that details steps for testing the safety of confined space work before, during and after such on-site operations.
Air Monitoring on Boats
In homes, we have several detectors to help us determine carbon monoxide and smoke levels. On our vesels, it takes Certified Marine Chemists (CMCs) and Shipyard Competent Persons (SCPs) to use special equipment for "sniffing" spaces where we want to do hot work. Marine Chemists are trained by the National Fire Protection Association and have extensive shipyard and laboratory experience to determine if areas are suitable for hot work. Ferry CMCs are external contractors. SCPs, however, are trained personnel who work at the ferry in various capacities, with up to 20 people certified at any one time. This year's class was to certify and refresh our engineers, welders, vessel maintenance team, port engineer and assistant port engineers.
"Due to the nature of our work, and the number of confined spaces, we've always tried to make sure we train as many people as possible. Not only does this help us to do work done on site, but it creates a more safety-conscious workforce," stated Jeff Robert, Port Engineer. "We have some of the best and most comprehensively trained crew who, over the years, have also been on call to assist other distressed vessels in or near our waters."
See Related Story: The Sankaty Assist
On each crossing, CMLF vessels carry air monitoring/testing devices. A larger one is used to sit adjacent to the entrance of an area where work is being done, A smaller personal device is carried by a person doing the hot work.
This year's training -- a combination of basic and refresher coursework -- was organized by Genny Kelliher in Human Resources. It was conducted by Rick Marstella, a marine chemist from Marine Chemist Service, Inc. in Virginia with both classroom instruction in The Gallery and on vessel training.
Home Air Quality. In addition to carbon monoxide and smoke detectors, many homes today are also adding IAQs to their home monitoring systems. Short for Indoor Air Quality monitoring, these devices alert you to higher than normal levels of dust, vapors, humidity or other air pollutants in the home,
Home air quality can be a more critical issue in winter months when windows and doors are closed and heating systems are pumping at full tilt. In industrial settings, air quality standards are set by the EPA - Environmental Protection Agency, and monitored by the company maintenance crews. But in your home, the monitoring is left to you including changing of HVAC air filters. According to Wirecutter, a first step might be to download the EPA's free mobile app that gives you local readings of outdoor air as well as indoor. Then, before you purchase a pricey IAQ, you'll have a better idea if you have an air quality issue to address.