Water Vessel Program

In accordance with the provision of R.S.39:1543. The Louisina Office of Risk Management (ORM) has decided to institute a self-insurance program for its water vessels. In an attempt to control the risk and reduce loss, ORM developed the Water Vessel Operator (WVO) safety program, which governs the use of state owned and operated water vessels. The EH&S Director has the responsibility of implementing the program at Nicholls State University.

A. Purpose
This program is established to increase safety awareness, reduce exposure and loss expense, while achieving accountability and meeting state requirements for operators and crew members, which operate and use state- owned or leased water vessels. This program is to provide a general policy outline regarding safety procedures, which are to be followed by all Nicholls State University personnel.

B. Applicability
This safety program applies to all Nicholls State University personnel assigned to, or those that use water vessels owned or leased by Nicholls State University.

C. Components of Nicholls State University Water Vessel Program
1. Responsibilities
Each agency owning/operating a water vessel is responsible for implementing a Water Vessel Program. The program shall include rules concerning who shall be permitted to operate vessels under the agency’s control. Policies shall outline the roles and responsibilities of department/agency heads, or program designee, and employees in water vessel safety. These policies shall be issued to all applicable employees and form the basis for an agency’s Water Vessel Program.

Department/Agency Heads are responsible for implementation of the Water Vessel Program and shall stress the importance of the department’s Water Vessel Program to all affected employees. Department/Agency heads or their designees are responsible for reviewing operator records and identifying employees (e.g., via an annually signed and dated list) who shall be authorized to operate state vessels.

Department/Agency Heads should ensure that only state-owned/leased/hired vessels are used on state business.

2. Water Vessel Operation Authorization
Nicholls State University employees using University water vessels, those leased or privately owned water vessels for University business are required to complete a Water Vessel Authorization/Operator History Form (Form DA 2066) before authorization to operate a water vessel is granted. Form DA 2066 is an annually renewable form. It must be completed with the employee’s signature, supervisor’s signature, and the ES&H Director’s signature before authorization to operate water vessels on University business is issued.

Employees who use vehicles owned or operated by the University to tow water vessels covered within this safety program must attend and complete a Defensive Driver Training. Also, they must have documentation of proper training in the operation of a boat trailer (this training can be performed by the Program Supervisor or his designee). This documentation must be on file for the duration of employment of the employee.

Authorization Process
The authorization process shall include:
• A review of the employee’s or prospective employee’s water vessel operating record obtained from the LDWF and/or The Coast Guard. Verifying completion of a “Boat Louisiana” training course or other ORM recognized course.
• Determining when operator responsibility shall be taken away from an employee because of reckless operation of a vessel or being cited for boating violations.

Procedures for Enrolling Operators
Upon recognizing the need for an employee to operate a state owned/leased/hired vessel by their supervisor, the employee shall complete the Authorization History Form (DA 2066). The information on this form shall be used to acquire the Water Operator Record (from the department of Wildlife and Fisheries or U.S. Coast Guard). The Authorization History Form and the WOR is then submitted to the agency head or designee who shall review the operator record and sign the Authorization History Form. When employees are authorized to operate water vessels, they shall be enrolled in the “Boat Louisiana” course or other ORM authorized course. A copy of the certificate of completion shall be retained on file.

D. High Risk Operators
High risk operators are those individuals having three or more convictions, guilty pleas, and/or nolo contendere pleas for moving vessel violations, or having a single conviction, guilty plea, or nolo contendere pleas for operating a vessel while intoxicated, careless operation, reckless operation, negligent homicide, or similar violation including any civil case for which negligence has been proven within the previous twelve (12) month period.

Individuals designated to be High Risk Operators shall be notified in writing that they are not authorized to operate state-owned/leased/hired water vessels from the date of discovery for a minimum of twelve (12) months and that they shall be required to retake a “Boat Louisiana” course within ninety (90) days of discovery.

The High Risk Operator’s immediate supervisor and the individual in charge of water vessels shall also be notified in writing that the unauthorized employee shall not be given authority or access to operate a vessel on state business.

E. Operator Training
In order to operate a water vessel on University business, each applicant must successfully complete a Boater Safety Course. The Boater Safety Course is sponsored by the Nicholls’ Office of Environmental Health and Safety, and conducted by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. Employees shall attend the required training within the first ninety (90) days of hire (or upon entering the program) and at least once every three (3) years thereafter. Any employee who has had a conviction or negligence on their boating record shall be required to retake the “Boat Louisiana” or other ORM recognized course within ninety (90) days of conviction.

F. Accident Reports
Each employee using a University owned or leased water vessel will be furnished with a Louisiana State Water Vessel Accident Form (Form DWF-BIR 005). All information concerning a water vessel accident must be obtained at the scene of the accident, if conditions allow. Prompt medical attention for injured individuals must be pursued immediately. Passenger injury report DOTD-03-18-3024 shall be filled out if an injury occurs to a passenger. All accidents shall be reported to the next level of supervision by the water vessel operator having the accident on the day of the accident or as soon thereafter as possible in the appropriate format. As provided for in R.S. 34:851.10, all accidents involving a vessel and resulting in death or injury to a person must be reported to DWLF within 48 hours and those with property damage in excess of $200 must be reported within five (5) days to: 1-800-442-2511. A wildlife agent will respond to investigate the accident.

A water vessel accident is defined as a collision, accident, or other casualty involving a state water vessel, other water vessel, or individual. A water vessel is considered to be involved in a boating accident whenever the occurrence results in damage by or to the water vessel or its equipment, results in injury or loss of life to any person, or results in the disappearance of any person from on board under circumstances that indicate the possibility of death or injury. A boating accident also includes, but is not limited to, capsizing, foundering, flooding, fire, explosion and the disappearance of a water vessel other than by theft.

Once the water vessel operator and crew members return to campus, they must contact the Director of the Office of Environmental Health and Safety to complete all required accident reports.

If the accident involves an automobile, the procedures for accident reporting must follow the guidelines of the Defensive Driver Safety Plan. Contact must be established with the Director of the Office of Environmental Health and Safety.

G. General Responsibility
This section outlines general responsibilities of program safety for the Water Vessel Safety Program. This outline is considered general and minimal. If and when additional requirements are needed to prevent accidents or reduce conditions that may contribute to accidents, all individuals will be responsible to ensure that action is taken to eliminate unsafe conditions.

1. The program administrator has overall responsibility for program safety and enforcement of this program for Nicholls State University.
2. All participating supervisors are responsible for enforcement of this safety program, and for taking the necessary steps to stop and prevent any unsafe acts involving program personnel. Supervisors will also ensure that personnel safely and properly operate equipment owned or leased by the University.
3. All program personnel are responsible for elimination of unsafe acts or conditions within their work area, to include program vessels, and to report such conditions or actions to their immediate supervisor. If the immediate supervisor is not available, an appropriate report will be made and forwarded to the program administrator. In all instances, a report will be sent to the Office of Environmental Health and Safety.
4. Supervisory and senior personnel of each crew working in or using equipment owned or leased by the University are responsible for the enforcement of this program, and for equipment safety guidelines while using or supervising personnel using such equipment.
5. Any and all program personnel have the responsibility to IMMEDIATELY STOP any observed unsafe acts and to eliminate any unsafe conditions.
6. The program administrator, program managers and water vessel captains are all responsible for furnishing appropriate safety equipment/materials for use by program personnel. If appropriate items are not on hand, no activity will be allowed to commence until such time safety equipment/materials are available for use.
7. All program personnel are responsible to adhere to safety guidelines for any equipment owned or leased by the University. This includes the use of personal protective equipment such as: hearing protection, personal flotation devices, hard hats, eye protection, gloves, cold weather equipment, etc.
8. All injuries to personnel are to be reported immediately. Telephone or personal contact, followed by a written report from the supervisor is mandatory in all cases where an injury occurs. Direct contact and written reports are to be sent to the Office of Personnel and the Office of Environmental Health and Safety.
9. Since Nicholls State University adheres to the firearm-free policy, no firearms are permitted on any water vessels owned or leased by the University.
10. All personnel not employed by Nicholls, who are passengers in vehicles or water vessels operated by this program, will sign the necessary release prior to riding in the vehicle or water vessel.
11. Water vessel captains are responsible to ensure visiting personnel that are riding in or on program equipment are briefed on the contents of this program.

H. Vehicle Safety (including trailers)
1. Prior to the operation and use of owned or leased vehicles, the operator of the vehicle shall conduct a walk-around inspection of the vehicle to identify any obvious problem(s) with the vehicle prior to its use. The walk-around inspection will include, but not limited to the following:
a. Lights (including brake lights)
b. Windshield wipers
c. Horn
d. Brakes, to include emergency brake
e. Seat belts for all passengers
f. Tire inflation
g. Tire Wear
h. Emergency flashers
i. Turn signals
Note: The above noted items must be corrected prior to operation of the vehicle.
2. The driver and all passengers riding in the vehicle shall wear seat belts.
3. When using communication equipment, the following procedures will be followed:
a. If operating the vehicle alone (no passengers), the vehicle will be pulled to the side of the road prior to the use of communication equipment.
b. If operating the vehicle with a passenger, the passenger will operate the communication equipment.
4. No horseplay is permitted in or around the assigned vehicle.
5. Each program vehicle shall be equipped with an operable fire extinguisher, first aid kit, flashlight, road flares and reflectors (can be included in watertight Carry-On Box)
6. All vehicle safety items are to be inspected monthly, and repaired or replaced when it is determined the items are no longer serviceable. All unserviceable items are to be turned into the Program Supervisor for inspection prior to purchase of replacement item(s). All expiration dates will be checked monthly. Records of replacement safety equipment will be turned in to the Program Supervisor.
7. All operators of program vehicles must have a current operator’s license in their possession when operating program vehicles.
8. When two or more persons are riding in a Nicholls State University assigned vehicle, the second crew member shall remain awake while it is in operation. It is the second crew member’s responsibility to ensure the driver is awake and alert to driving conditions.
9. The use of alcohol or drugs – prescription or non-prescription – which may impair the driving ability or judgment of the operator is strictly prohibited.
10. The operator of the vehicle is responsible for obeying and following all traffic safety laws.
11. All Nicholls State University personnel are to display continued courtesy to other drivers regardless of what another driver may do.

I. Vessel Safety
1. All Nicholls State University personnel, especially senior and supervisory personnel, are directly responsible to ensure all safety measures, to include those which are not written, are followed at all times.
2. A FLOAT PLAN must be filed with Nicholls State University Police Department before a vessel is launched on Nicholls State University business.
3. Supervisors will provide all required equipment for the COB (Carry-On Box).
a. Visual distress signals (minimum 3 for day, 3 for night, suggested 3 red flares (night/day), and 2 orange smoke (night/day)
b. Coast Guard approved fire extinguisher (ABC type)
c. Sound producing device (air horn). If the vessel is larger than 12 meters, a bell is required along with the air horn.
d. Cell phone and VHF radio (they must be operational and tested the day of use)
e. First aid kit
f. Watertight flashlight
g. Mirror
h. Tool kit
i. Charts and maps
j. Potable water
k. Spare batteries for radio, phone and flashlight
4. During the operation of any water vessel assigned to or operated by any Nicholls State University faculty/staff, all personnel in the water vessel will wear a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) – Class III. In areas of open water, such as the Gulf of Mexico, Terrebonne Bay, Timbalier Bay, Atchafalaya Bay, etc., all Nicholls State University personnel shall wear PFD’s – Class I or II.
5. Nicholls State University vessels are not to go into areas of open water unless it is absolutely necessary. However, if they do, the supervisor will advise Nicholls of the destination and reasons for navigating into open waters.
6. All crews will be equipped with a Global Positioning System (GPS). Operation of the system will be in accordance with the instructions provided with the system.
7. All vessel crews will be equipped with a VHF radio, and a cellular phone as a necessary communication system. Operational testing of these communication tools is required before every vessel usage.
8. Supervisors will check the operational status of all safety equipment on a weekly basis and take appropriate corrective measures as required.
9. No water vessel is to be operated in inside or outside waters when a small craft weather advisory for the area of operation has been issued. If an advisory is issued while the water vessel is in operation, the vessel is to return to protected waters.
10. No water vessel is to be operated when gale warnings or tropical storm warnings have been issued for coastal Louisiana, or in periods of serious visual impairment such as fog or heavy rain.
11. Personnel that do not know how to swim will not be allowed to use or ride in a water vessel except in emergency conditions.
12. Supervisors will ensure that an adequate amount of potable water (at least a one day supply) is on board the water vessel before it departs port.
13. Only those personnel who have completed an approved water vessel safety course will be allowed to operate a water vessel assigned to or owned by Nicholls State University.
14. Supervisors and crew members assigned to water vessels will verify the contents of the COB and make sure that it is on board the vessel before it is under operation.
15. No horseplay of any type is to be allowed in or around any water vessel at any time.
16. If an individual refuses to wear a PFD, the individual WILL NOT be allowed to board any assigned water vessel.

J. Fire Safety
1. All guidelines issued by the United States Coast Guard (USCG) concerning fire safety will be strictly adhered to at all times.
2. All fire extinguishers on motor vehicles and water vessels are to be inspected by the supervisor and crew members each week. Inoperable units will be replaced with fully charged and inspected units.
3. Fire extinguishers will be mounted in all motor vehicles and water vessels used in the Water Vessel Program.
4. Gasoline will not be used as a cleaning solvent at any time.
5. When refueling water vessels, motor vehicles and gasoline-powered equipment, the operator will ensure that the equipment is properly grounded. All precautions are to be taken to reduce the threat of static electricity.
6. Since water vessels will be used in corrosive environments, flammable liquids will be stored in galvanized safety containers that are either FM (factory mutual) approved or UL (underwriter’s laboratory) listed.
7. Fueling of gasoline-powered equipment will not take place while equipment is hot.
8. Flammable liquids will be dispensed only in areas of adequate ventilation.
9. All electric equipment will be inspected prior to use for worn or broken wiring. Any discrepancies will be reported and necessary action taken to repair or replace unsafe or damaged equipment.
10. All electrical equipment is to be properly grounded prior to use.
11. All chemicals are to be stored in proper containers with regard to class and criteria of hazard. Mixing of non-compatible chemicals is strictly forbidden. Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) are to be kept on site and within access of all personnel.
12. Dirty or soiled rags are not to be stored; they are to be disposed of as they are used.

K. Personal Safety
1. All Nicholls State University personnel that are part of the Water Vessel Operator’s (WVO) Safety Program are to adhere to all safety rules, requirements and standards.
2. No Nicholls State University personnel will operate any equipment assigned to them while under the influence of alcoholic beverages, legal or illegal drugs, which impairs the judgment of the individuals or cause the individual to become drowsy. Supervisors will ensure that no one is under the influence of alcohol or legal or illegal drugs. Individuals under the influence are a danger to themselves and others.
3. Horseplay in and around any motor vehicles or water vessel is prohibited. Horseplay is also not allowed on the grounds or buildings in which Nicholls State University personnel may occupy.
4. Each individual is responsible for his and others safety. No individual is to assume safety is the responsibility of someone else. He/She is responsible for checking their personal safety equipment.
5. Personal safety equipment will be available and used per the manufactures recommendation. This includes ear protection, eye protection, hard hats, gloves, etc. If proper safety equipment is not available, written  documentation is to be provided to the supervisor so that proper safety equipment may be obtained and issued.
6. If an unsafe act is witnessed, it is the responsibility of the individual to intervene, and take corrective action. If the unsafe act continues, the unsafe act and individual is to be reported to your supervisor and the  Environmental Health and Safety Director.
7. All persons are to be aware of the symptoms and immediate first aid for Hypothermia and Heat Stress.
8. Trailer tongue jacks will be maintained in proper working order to assist in preventing back injuries.
9. To prevent injuries on water vessels, all Nicholls State University personnel should work in pairs.
10. When working in the boat yard, communication with supervisory personnel should be available at all times.
11. Upon returning to the dock or landing, Nicholls State University should be contacted and the status of the crew reported.
12. All accidents, near misses, incidents or unusual circumstances should be reported to the Environmental Health and Safety Director promptly.

Water Vessel Safety Rules

Vessel Safety
1. All Nicholls State University personnel operating water vessels, and those that are water vessel passengers, will ensure that all safety rules, regulations, standards, codes and laws are followed at all times.
2. During the operation of water vessel assigned to or operated by Nicholls State University personnel, all will wear an approved PFD, with a minimum being a Class III PFD. In areas where dangerous conditions exist such as high winds, a Class I or Class II PFD will be worn.
3. If a Nicholls State University water vessel is to venture into open water, a “Float Plan” stipulating origination point, destination, time of departure and arrival, a list of crew and passengers, duration of trip, reason for trip, type of water vessel used, registration number of water vessel, and other pertinent information will be submitted to the EH&S Director and department head of crew chief.
4. Fire extinguishers and first aid equipment will be a part of the Carry-On Box at all times.
5. Appropriate maps and charts will be part of the Carry-On Box.
6. No water vessel is to be operated in outside/unprotected waters or in open water when a small craft advisory has been issued for the area.
7. No water vessel is to be operated when gale force or tropical storm warnings have been issued for coastal Louisiana. Water vessels will not be operated during periods of serious visual impairment such as heavy rain or fog.
8. Personnel who do not know how to swim will not be permitted to use or ride in an assigned Nicholls State University water vessel, except in emergency conditions.
9. Only those individuals, who have completed a Water Vessel Safety Course, or its equivalent, will be permitted to operate a Nicholls State University assigned water vessel.
10. No one will be allowed to operate or ride in a Nicholls State University water vessel without wearing a PFD.

Fire Safety
1. All fire extinguishers are to be inspected by vehicle/vessel operators each week. Inoperable or discharged units will be replaced. Fire extinguishers will be readily available when operating a gasoline engine.
2. Gasoline will not be used as a solvent or cleaning solution.
3. When refueling water vessels or motor vehicles, the operator will ensure the equipment is properly grounded. Gasoline powered equipment will not be refueled when hot.
4. Flammable liquids will be stored in an approved storage container. Flammable liquids will be used only in areas of adequate ventilation.
5. All electrical equipment will be properly grounded and inspected regularly for damage.
6. Non-compatible chemicals will be stored in separate storage containers and separate storage areas.

Personal Safety
1. No one will be allowed to board or operate any water vessel, motor vehicle or other assigned equipment while under the influence of any drug (prescription or non-prescription), or intoxicating beverage. The use of alcohol is strictly forbidden.
2. Horseplay, in or around any assigned equipment, is strictly forbidden.
3. Each individual is responsible for his/her own personal safety, and MUST NOT ASSUME safety is the responsibility of someone else.
4. Proper personal safety equipment is to be used within the guidelines specified by the manufacture. If the proper safety equipment is not available, inform the supervisor or the Nicholls State University EH&S Director.
5. No firearms or other dangerous weapons are permitted.
6. All unsafe acts are to be reported immediately to the supervisor and the Nicholls State University EH&S Director.

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