MCA MGN 436 - Whole Body Vibration Guidance

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WBV Guidance on Mitigating Against the Effects of Shocks and Impacts on Small Vessels

MGN 436 provides guidance on mitigating the risk of injury from whole body vibration (WBV) on small vessels, and in particular severe and repeated shocks (RS) as a result of impacts.

Guidance is provided to assist in improving the design of vessels to reduce the severity of the impact and to provide a suitable postural position for those on board to enable them to brace effectively.

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.

MGN 436 - 'Whole Body Vibration: Guidance on Mitigating Against the Effects of Shocks and Impacts on Small Vessels' 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 / NEXT GEN Marine), 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.”

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 significant and life-changing.

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

The guidance note provides best practice for boat designers, builders, managers and operators to reduce the likelihood of such injuries occurring.

Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) Marine Guidance Notes (MGNs) give guidance and recommendations about best practice to industry on interpretation of law and general safety advice.

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