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Working In And Around Water

Hi I'm Jill, Chief Safety Officer with Vivid Learning Systems. I'm a former OSHA inspector and I'm here to help you identify and correct workplace hazards.

For this series we are at the beautiful Monterey bay aquarium to show you that no matter where you work, safety is for everyone.

Do you have employees who work in or near water? Perhaps you have employees who work on a bridge or a barge or a levee or a pool or a wastewater treatment facility. Or maybe you're working on rescue in floodwaters or during a natural disaster. Or perhaps it's at a place like we're at today at the Monterey bay aquarium in the tide pool. Regardless of where it is that you're working, in or near water, you need to have some procedures and processes in place to keep everyone safe.

And today we're going to learn more about that from Justin who is a dive safety officer here at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. And Justin I'm wondering if you could walk us through some of the hazards that are associated with work here at the aquarium, and in the tide pool area. Sure there can be many hazards that are associated in an aquarium, such as drowning but all the way down to slips, trips, and falls some of those things might require additional training, which we do on an annual basis for all of our staff and volunteers. And that also would require additional equipment as well.

Excellent, so what about some of the equipment that you need to have at the ready, what sort of things are we are do you use and do prepare for? Working in the body of water like this will require to have a type for throwable PFD or personal flotation device. These personal flotation devices will also be having a line attached to them so you can throw the line and the buoy out to the individual and then you could haul them back to the structure where you are.

So do you have a type four that you can show us? Yes I do, I have a type for right here. This type for is at the already, has the line in serviceable condition and is ready to throw to the individual all the way to the other side of the exhibit.

And what's the requirement the length of line that you need with this? So the length of line should be at least minimum the length of 75 feet. For this exhibit here. If the body of water is larger, I would have multiple PFDs one on either side of the exhibit where you would be able to access that if you are on the opposite side. All right so it's really dependent on the size of where you are and where your working That is correct.

Okay so what about the other PFDs that we have like what tell us about the one that you're wearing. So this is a type three PFD, this is meant to be worn at all times when you're working over a body of water, and this type three PFD is sized appropriately for me and this is a large. You wouldn't want to put a large PFD on a much smaller individual because it would float up and it would not provide a head-up flotation.

And what about the kind that I'm wearing. This is a type five PFD this is meant to inflate when you pull the tab. This inflation will inflate and you put the line up over your head and then it'll maintain you in a face up position. Okay, wonderful. And then any other equipment that you have at the ready as part of your response? Well some of the other items that you can use in an in a rescue are a line, which would be a throw bag that you could use to throw to the victim that you would hold on to the line and use the throw bag to throw to the individual. Okay, very good.

And then how often are you doing training? You had you had mentioned the training that you're doing but how often does your dive team need to get together to build the correct muscle memory to know how to respond to the various situations you could have here? We do annual drills for all our staff  and volunteers. If there is a change in the job or the gallery or the environment that they're working and we will retrain each individual to be well-versed in the environment that they'll be in. Very good. So annual at a minimum and as things change just like any other industry, when you have changes in work environments you retrain your employees and it sounds like that's what you're doing here as well. That is correct. Very good.

So Justin I guess next we're going to go through a simulated rescue. Yeah are we ready to try that. I think we are. Very good. So we're ready to start our water rescue simulation now, and a couple of things that we have in place already is an oxygen kit and I'm acting as Justin's secondary spotter. So Justin can you describe to us now that we have Sid our victim in the water, what's the first thing that you do what's part of your assessment once somebody's in the water? Assessing a scene and putting yourself into a potentially hazardous situation is a very serious thing, so we need to do is understand hazards that you could be looking at. You ask the rescuer. As the rescuer I could be putting myself into the hazard as well, so trying to, one, get them to do a self rescue and see if they can swim to the edge and calm themselves. If they cannot swim to the edge they need to get to the edge of the body of water with your assistance. And this is one of those tools that you could use. This is a line throw bag. What you do is you want to shoot for beyond the individual, if you shoot for beyond the individual you'll make sure that you lay the line over them and they can grab it and pull themselves into the edge of the water.

Very nice and so this is something you'd use obviously for a conscious person and someone who's maybe calm. Only for individuals that's calm and conscious, if a person is panicked, they need some type of buoyancy to get themselves up to the top of the water so they can keep their head above the water. Sure and so for that is when you move into using the ring. Correct the ring would be used in a way to give them some buoyancy and then it has a line attached to it as well which you could use to pull them to the edge of the water.

Okay, so another part of being prepared is emergency response, and so Justin maybe you can talk about that aspect of what are the other kinds of emergency response techniques and procedures do you need to have in place and do you need to be thinking about as a rescuer.

Another emergency response item would be an item like two-way communication. You can use communication like just a line and you can use line poles to talk to each other. You can use like a radio, being able to talk to the individual would help out as well as radioing for assistance, and possibly making an emergency plan to call for EMS at some times emergency medical service. Sure so if it's obvious your victim may need some medical care from what you're observing immediately, you'll be able to deploy the appropriate response. That's all part of the emergency preparedness plan and understanding the situation and going forward, you will need to know what the steps are you would have happen. Sure very good.

So now we've got Sid in the water again and we can kind of pretend this time that maybe Sids a little panicky of a person and they're gonna need some help because maybe their self rescue isn't as adept as you'd hoped it would be, so now you're moving into a different technique. So this type for throwable has a line that's attached to it. Undo the line, unravel. You want to have plenty of slack so it doesn't get caught up, and make sure you hold on to the end of the line here. This line you want to go and again shoot over the individual. And then you'll be able to pull them back into the water's edge. So at this point it would give Sid something to hold on to and you'd be able to pull them in. Correct, a panicked individual will grab on to anything that is floating, so we need to give them something to grab onto.

So Justin after you get the victim to safety then what are some of the things that you'll be doing as a dive team, like what about what sort of assessment will you be doing from there. Well assessing the individual would include potential thermoregulation issues. If they are really cold trying to assess them for possible EMS requirements there would also may be a requirement for oxygen administration. A worst-case scenario for AED administration as well. So when you make an assessment of the individual in the situation that they meet may need any of these things, I would call EMS, call 9-1-1 and get someone down here that would be able to provide potentially advanced life support.

And so you are practicing these techniques on a recurring basis here at the aquarium? This is an annual and repeatable basis that we do every year and if there's any change in the job they do it again and again. Very good, very good.

Thank you so much for your time today Justin, really appreciate it and feel very safe here at the aquarium knowing how well trained your team is. Thank you for being here. Yeah, you're welcome.

I hope you gained a safety skill today. If you know someone who needs this go ahead and pass it on.

Safety is everyone's business.