Water Safety

Water Safety

Do not underestimate the importance of safety around water. Being able to swim is not enough to protect yourself in every situation. A fall into cold water can seriously affect breathing, nerves, and muscle strength. Wearing a life jacket or personal flotation device is your best defence against drowning, and some devices can protect you from cold-water shock.

Water Safety Equipment

If someone is at risk of drowning in the workplace, owners, employers and contractors are responsible for making sure employees use:

Note that employees must wear a life jacket when:

  • Working alone.
  • The workplace cannot provide quick and effective rescue.

The shell of the life jacket or personal flotation device must be bright yellow, orange or red, and have retro-reflective material on the parts that are normally above the water’s surface. A competent person must inspect and maintain automatically inflatable personal flotation devices, according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The date and details of the inspection and maintenance must be recorded.

A personal safety net must be designed, selected, installed, used, stored, tested and maintained in accordance with ANSI standard A10.11-1989, “Personnel and Debris Nets”.

Employers and contractors are responsible for ensuring employees wear life jackets or use personal flotation devices while:

  • Being transported by boat.
  • Working on ice covering water more than 1 m deep.
  • Participating in a rescue.

Employers and contractors must test the ice before work begins and as necessary to ensure it will support any load placed on it.

If employees could fall into water (or another liquid) and may need help returning to safety, employers and contractors must make sure:

  • The emergency procedure is posted at the workplace and has:
    • A full description of the procedure.
    • A description of the roles and responsibilities of any employees granted access to the workplace.
    • The location of all emergency equipment and the names of their designated operators.
  • Emergency equipment is ready to be used.
  • Competent people are available to operate the emergency equipment and provide help.
  • There is an alarm system for emergency rescues.

When developing an emergency procedure, consider:

  • Temperature, depth, and flow rate of the water or other liquids
  • Water traffic
  • Distance to the rescue boat
  • Distance to reach employees
  • Objects beneath the surface
  • Objects jutting out from the surface
  • All factors that may affect visibility
  • The time of day
  • Any adverse weather conditions

Employers or contractors must ensure that rescue boats have a life ring or buoy that is attached to 30 m of rope and a boat hook, and are motorized, if the water is likely to be rough or swift.

General Regulation - Occupational Health and Safety Act
N.B. Reg. 91-191

Part VII PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT

Section 51

51. (1) The following definitions apply in this section.

"automatically inflatable personal flotation device" means a device that provides buoyancy through an automatic inflation mechanism with an oral inflation system as a back-up and when worn correctly supports a conscious employee in an upright or backward leaning position, but is not designed to turn an employee from a face-down to a face-up position in the water;

"life jacket" means an inherently buoyant device that when worn correctly supports a conscious or unconscious employee in an upright or backward leaning position and is designed to turn an employee from a face-down to a face-up position in the water;

"personal flotation device" means an inherently buoyant device that when worn correctly supports a conscious employee in an upright or backward leaning position, but is not designed to turn an employee from a face-down to a face-up position in the water, and includes devices that are designed to protect an employee against hypothermia..

(2) If an employee is exposed to a risk of drowning, an owner of a place of employment, an employer and a contractor shall each ensure the employee uses one of the following:

(a) a fall-protection system;

(b) a life jacket that conforms to CGSB standard CAN/CGSB-65.7-M88 , "Life Jackets, Inherently Buoyant Type";

(c) a personal flotation device that conforms to CGSB standard CAN/CGSB-65.11-M88 , "Personal Flotation Devices";

(d) an automatically inflatable personal flotation device that meets UL1180-95, "Fully Inflatable Recreational Personal Flotation Devices"; or

(e) a personal safety net that conforms to the requirements of section 49.8.

(3) The shell of a life jacket or flotation device referred to in paragraphs (2)(b) to (d) shall be bright yellow, orange or red and have retro-reflective material fitted on surfaces normally above the surface of the water.

(4) Despite subsection (2), an employee shall wear a life jacket when

(a) working alone, or

(b) there are insufficient resources to provide a quick and effective rescue.

(5) An employer and a contractor shall each ensure that an employee wears a life jacket or flotation device referred to in paragraphs (2)(b) to (d) when being transported in a boat.

(6) If an employee works on ice and the water under the ice is more than 1 m in depth, an employer and a contractor shall each test the ice before beginning any work and after as necessary to ensure that the ice will support any load placed on it.

(7) If an automatically inflatable personal flotation device is used, the employer and the employee shall each ensure that

(a) the device is inspected and maintained by a competent person in accordance with the manufacturer's specifications, and

(b) the date and details of the inspection and maintenance are recorded.

(8) If an employee may fall into water or any other liquid and may require assistance to return to a place of safety, an employer and contractor shall each ensure that a copy of emergency procedures is posted at the place of employment, and which copy shall contain

(a) a full description of the emergency procedures, including the responsibilities of all employees granted access to the place of employment; and

(b) the location of any emergency equipment and the name of the employee designated to operate the equipment.

(9) Emergency procedures shall include the following, as applicable:

(a) with regards to water or another liquid,

(i) its temperature,

(ii) its depth, and

(iii) its flow;

(b) any water traffic;

(c) the distance to the rescue boat;

(d) the distance to reach an employee;

(e) any projections or objects beneath the surface;

(f) any visibility issues;

(g) the time of day; and

(h) any adverse weather conditions.

(10) If an employee may fall into water or any other liquid and may require assistance to return to a place of safety, an employer and contractor shall each ensure that

(a) appropriate emergency equipment is ready to be used,

(b) a person who is competent to operate the emergency equipment is readily available to provide assistance, and

(c) an alarm system is provided to signal the need for a rescue.

(11) An employer and a contractor shall each ensure that an employee wears a life jacket or a personal flotation device when participating in a rescue.

(12) If an employer or contractor provides a boat for use in an emergency, the employer or contractor shall ensure

(a) that the rescue boat is equipped with a life ring or buoy that is attached to 30 m of rope and a boat hook, and

(b) that the rescue boat is motorized if the water is likely to be rough or swift.

[N.B. Reg. 97-121, s. 13; 2001-33, s. 22; 2010-159, s. 8]