MCA publishes MGN 436 new guidance to mitigate serious injury on small vessels

New guidance on mitigating the risk of serious injury from whole body vibration on small vessels has been published today in MGN 436 (Amendment 2) by the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA).

Whole Body Vibration (WBV) and Repeated Shock (RS) injuries are a known issue of travelling on small vessels at high speeds. When they occur, they can be life-changing or even fatal. MGN 436 (Amendment 2) is aimed at operators of small vessels and focuses on mitigating strategies, following several serious incidents in recent years. It provides guidance on ways to alleviate risk of injury, both severe and chronic, for crew and passengers.

This latest update to the guidance reflects the evolving knowledge and best practice including the use of shock mitigating technology and data. Incidents have occurred on inland waters and estuaries as well as at sea, and to a wide demographic of the population. Injuries sustained include spinal compression injuries, serious damage to joints and fractures in the leg and feet.

Julie Carlton, head of seafarer safety and health for UK Maritime Services, said: “Without the proper mitigation of vibration and shocks, workers on small vessels are at risk of chronic injury at low levels, and severe shocks can cause life-changing injuries to crew and passengers.

“This guidance is an important update to the safety precautions, to take on board the technology now available that could help.

“We are particularly grateful to John Haynes AFNI FRINA (MD at Shock Mitigation), as well as Dr Tom Coe CEng MRINA (RNLI), Maritime Pilotage Consultant Captain Don Cockrill MBE and Jonathan Lewis MIMarEST (Border Force Maritime Command) for providing their expertise and assistance in developing this latest guidance.”

Current research suggests there is no definitive design of craft or seating which is guaranteed to mitigate all the effects of WBV. There are, however, some basic principles which, if followed, may assist in reducing the effects and preventing further injuries.

The new guidance note MGN 436 provides best practice for boat designers, builders, managers and operators to reduce the likelihood of such injuries occurring. There is also guidance for operators on reducing the risk of injury through training, pre-departure briefing and ensuring that the vessel is operated considering vessel design, sea conditions and the health and experience of those onboard.

Read the new guidance note: MGN 436

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