Safety on Barges
Do's and Don'ts of Barging
Many of the following points apply wherever you are doing your barging whether it is in the UK or Continental Europe. Barges are slow, heavy vessels which need skilful handling. Once those skills are mastered they are easy to steer, fun to travel about on and very simple to handle. Keeping yourself and your crew safe is the essential prerequisite to a hugely exciting and satisfying adventure.
- Accidents rarely happen to those in the wheelhouse; they happen out on the deck to the crew.
- Accidents to people almost always involve the use of ropes: learn to handle them properly.
- Treat ropes with respect; never step on them, keep them coiled, don't stand with them round your feet.
- Accidents mostly happen in locks: don't allow yourself to be distracted.
- Accidents happen because of poor communication between master and crew: be sure that instructions are clearly understood.
- Accidents happen through ignorance and inexperience: learn as much as you can about barging before you set out.
- When you have visitors on board make sure they are fully briefed before you allow them to assist.
- Many accidents occur as a result of boats getting hung up in locks by lines becoming jammed: learn how to ensure this never happens.
- For the most part you have no control over how much and how fast water fills or empties a lock: keep careful control your boat and an eye on your crew.
- Don't climb up and down lock ladders unnecessarily: learn to throw ropes.
- Don't get off the boat to put a line ashore or onto a lock side bollard: make it a generality to always work from the boat to the bank.
- Never jump off the boat.
- Don't try to stop a moving boat by hauling on the rope: take a turn with it round anything to hand.
- Man overboard is a rare occurrence but most likely to happen in locks: be extra vigilant.
- Keep deck equipment and ropes tidy and always in the same place.
- Lock-keepers do not know much about barges: obey their instructions only if you think it is safe to do so.
- Gaining an ICC does not teach you how to handle a barge.
If thinking about going on the sea or estuary, read the articles in the Cruising section of the Knowledgebase.
Keep safe; be happy; have fun on your barge.