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WBV & H-SURV Seminars For Fast Boat Operators

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FRC WBV & H-SURV Seminars at RNLI Lifeboat College UK

FRC International hosted WBV and H-SURV Seminars at the RNLI Lifeboat College, Poole UK, on 10th & 11th July 2012.

These seminars attracted over 50 delegates from all maritime sectors including military, search & rescue, government agencies, port and harbour authorities, police, oil & gas security and charter. Boat builders, specialist equipment manufacturers and naval architects also attended. End user organisations were keen to know what steps other organisations are taking to address the issues of whole body vibration (WBV) and health surveillance.

FRC Director John Haynes, AFNI, introduced the two day agenda with a brief overview of the FRC International objectives. The internationally recognised training and qualification structure developed by FRC supports competence based interoperability between both individuals and professional maritime organisations. The FRC state of the art / best practice approach also helps crews to remain safe and healthy. The FRC WBV seminar is internationally recognised by The Nautical Institute and Captain Harry Gale, Technical Director of the Institute, was in attendance for both days.

FRC Director Dr Trevor Dobbins led the technical presentations by assessing the current situation and how the WBV & H-SURV Seminar supports the fast craft industry. Throughout the seminar Dr Dobbins included various papers co-authored with experts from around the world. New tools being developed to assist the professional sector include the HSC Motion Analysis Guide and 4x4 Risk Assessment. He had recently presented new concepts to the US Navy and passed on what are now becoming global views on both whole body vibration and health surveillance. This evolving knowledge leading to genuine best practice underpinned the two day programme.



John Haynes used a simple SWOT analysis approach to discuss the three most relevant MCA Mariners Guidance Notes - MGN 353, MGN 436 and the recently released MGN 446 that relates to ELV exemption applications. These MGNs need to be read by operators to assist in understanding EAV (Exposure Action Value) and ELV (Exposure Limit Value) as part of compliance with the EC Vibration Directive, July 2010. The discussion showed that the numbers are difficult to comply with and many attendees were eager to know more about the metrics.

This was an opportune time for Dr Tom Gunston of VJT Technical Services to deliver a detailed presentation on the technical aspects of RS and WBV analysis. His in depth understanding of measuring methods and the resulting metrics highlighted glaring errors in certain organisations mathematics and measuring methods. There are ongoing debates from academics around the world regarding the use of rms and VDV for the assessment of vibration exposure to people on boats. Impact Count Index and the USN Ride Severity Index were discussed along with the development of ISO 2631 Part5 (Sed8) update. He also looked at data filtering, recording and laboratory testing of seating. The high level audience took advantage of this presentation to ask questions on all aspects of measuring their own craft.

Development of the Seactive suspended deck was discussed as a novel means of delivering shock mitigation to the entire deck area. This could be used to protect personnel, console, controls, sensitive equipment and payload. Integration into an existing boat design has been proven and trials are underway. The audience were impressed by the concept and this project clearly brings a new element to consider as part of vibration reduction on fast boats.

FRC Director Jon Hill, AFNI, gave an overview of feedback from WBV awareness courses that FRC have been running in 2012. The first stage is for organisations to understand what other operators are doing to demonstrate duty-of-care. To follow the MCA Marine Guidance Notes organisations need to demonstrate that they have reduced the effects of WBV on boats to As Low As Reasonably Possible (ALARP). The FRC approach supports this and various organisations attending the Seminar had already introduced WBV MANAGER and WBV CREW awareness courses as part of their action plan to reduce risk from vibration exposure.

On day two the H-SURV presentations generated a great deal of interest from all attendees. Dr Trevor Dobbins outlined how professional RIB and high speed craft operations are reliant on competent crew with the appropriate capabilities, including health and fitness. Dr Dobbins looked at the options for monitoring health status. Topics included ‘pain & soreness’ and how ‘tolerable discomfort’ varies between various groups. Studies illustrated how high level military personnel tend to under report discomfort, compared to the general population, and be able to withstand discomfort for longer periods - therefore potentially increasing their risk of chronic injuries. The presentation covered RS and WBV exposure data then looked at the merits of ‘Paper versus Electronic Recording’ and ‘Individual versus Organisation Analysis.’

Dr Rollin Stott, who has extensive experience with major organisations ranging from QinetiQ and the RAF, to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), presented a lively comparison with aviation. Occupational medicine experts in most industries already understand the value of effective monitoring and surveillance of health. As a medical practitioner he was perplexed by why the maritime sector has been so slow to address the issues of WBV and effective health surveillance. Dr Tom Gunston confirmed that the construction industry had followed the EC Vibration Directive closely and has already acted to mitigate the risks from Hand Arm Vibration (HAV).

Julie Carlton, MCA Seafarer Health & Safety Manager, presented the MCA perspective regarding MGN 436 and MGN 446 that relates to exemption applications. This enabled industry to ask various questions ranging from how the metrics are interpreted to the ELV exemption process. The audience appreciated this open approach and were able to ask further questions during the day.

The H-SURV presentations showed examples which are being delivered to the RIB and fast boat industry sector worldwide by FRC International. The maintenance of competence includes maintaining the crew’s health and safety. In high speed boat operations it is essential to deal with both Whole Body Vibration, including legal compliance in the EU, and the required health surveillance. The 'da Vinci' figure linked to a red-amber-green (RAG) index enables boat crew to easily record any discomfort on a daily basis. The FRC system is designed to identify the onset of injuries allowing employers to intervene and protect their crews.

James Glover, managing director of DYENA, discussed the various hardware options that are currently available for recording vibration and acceleration. Existing technologies for land and dry environments have mounting issues on fast, open boats, as well as requiring technical expertise to complete the analysis. He introduced a small waterproof ‘black box’ with built in GPS that is designed as a vibration exposure recorder on boats. He explained that complex calculations and the resulting mass of data that can be captured is an issue in itself. Going from data capture to data uploading is achieved with a mini SIM card that can be inserted into a PC, with subsequent automatic data analysis being provided. The use of Google Maps to track the boats progress with a red-amber-green (RAG) index makes the results more intuitive to the crew and their managers.

Dr Steve Myers from the University of Chichester discussed the obvious benefits of ‘Pre-habilitation versus Re-habilitation’. He looked at the physical demands on the boat crew that can lead to fatigue, injury and reduced cognitive ability. Assessments and fitness programme development considered typical injuries seen in boat crews compared to other industry sectors and high impact sports. Examples of trials with the military boat community confirmed a lowered ability to perform physical activity after fast boat transits.

To ensure the seminar achieved practical goals Jon Hill finished the second day from the operator’s viewpoint of what actually happens to the human body in high speed boat operations. The RNLI Lifeboat College Poole was an excellent venue for the fast boat sector to discuss these current issues. Overall the WBV and H-SURV Seminars delivered two days of high level presentations enhanced by audience participation.

For further information EC Vibration Directive


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