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Prevention of Drowning

Hazard Related Topics


The danger of drowning whilst working on a construction site is usually present when the project involves working on, over or near water. There are risks of drowning in confined spaces, on boats, in tanks, cassions and coffer dams.

Hazards and Risks

The hazards of working over water are the same as for work done at height. The additional risks are those of drowning, hypothermia and of being carried away by currents.

Control Measures

  • Ensure that working platforms are secure with no tripping hazards. Surfaces which become wet and slippery should be cleaned and treated with sand or industrial salt.
  • Access ladders, guard-rails and toe boards should be checked periodically to ensure they are firmly fixed.
  • Safety helmets should be worn at all times to prevent the possibility of workers being struck by something and falling into the water unconscious.
  • Life Jackets should be worn at all times.
  • Ensure any safety nets or safety harness provided is used at all times.
  • Life buoys fitted with lifelines should be provided and be ready for use at all times.
  • A safety boat must be provided and manned. When the work is over tidal water or a fast flowing river it must be provided with an engine with a self starting device.
  • There should be a tried and tested routine for raising the alarm and for rescue drill.

Relevant Legislation