1.1 This policy is written to provide members with the information necessary to ensure that Liverpool Victoria Rowing Club (the Club) operates at all times in a safe manner. Primarily the Club will conform to the requirements and advice of the British Rowing (BR) Row Safe Guide to Good Practice in Rowing but
the Club will also take such further measures as are relevant to the local conditions.
The water on which the Club rows, the Great Float, is a dock actively used by shipping and particular attention must be paid to the potential hazards arising from this situation and to the requirements of the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company (MDHC).
1.2 Members must also be aware that conditions at regattas held on water other than the Great Float will frequently include hazards not present on the Float. Rivers will usually have a current and in some cases there may also be a tidal stream enhancing or opposing the current. There may be, for example, weirs, fishing platforms, fallen trees, underwater snags, pleasure craft (powered, sailing, rowing or
paddling) or swimmers and it is necessary to be aware of these and other hazards on any unfamiliar water.
1.3 A subsidiary objective of the safety policy is to minimise damage to Club equipment. Collisions are likely to result in damage to the boats and oars involved even if none of the rowers are injured.
1.4 Nothing in this policy limits in any way the individual's responsibility for the outcome of his/her own actions. All Club members are responsible for their own safety and for the safety of other Club members. Members have a responsibility to notify the committee of any medical condition that may affect them during exercise.
1.5 All members should be made aware of the existence of the Safety Policy and encouraged to make themselves familiar with its content. It should be published on the Club web site and paper copies should be available for any members who do not have convenient access to the internet. However no written policy can cover all situations and all members should continually assess likely risks and act so as to manage them.
1.6 This policy statement provides only a brief outline of the essential requirements for safety in rowing. For further information and advice on any matter relating to safe rowing the BR publication Row Safe: A Guide to Good Practice in Rowing should be consulted. Members are in any case encouraged to familiarise themselves with the Guide, which is published on the British Rowing website.
2. Safety Adviser
2.1 The Club Water Safety Adviser shall be appointed or re-appointed at the first Committee Meeting after the Annual General Meeting each year. Club Rule 2.3 applies.
2.2 The Water Safety Adviser (WSA) is expected to be fully conversant with the requirements of the BR Row Safe Guide and the Club Safety Policy and to advise the Club on action necessary to ensure compliance. The WSA will also conduct or ensure the conducting of risk assessments to evaluate the risks to the Club both on and off the water and advise the Committee accordingly. He/she will conduct an
annual BR Water Safety Audit of the Club's activities, will submit a report and recommendations to the Club Committee and deliver the results of the audit to the Regional Water Safety Adviser.
2.3 The WSA will also ensure that whenever a risk assessment identifies local risks or hazards a Safety Plan is formulated and displayed prominently at the Club and that appropriate actions are defined. The WSA will ensure that those affected by the Safety Plan know what actions are to be taken and by whom.
2.4 The WSA will also ensure that a plan of the Float showing access and escape points, visual aids on safe practice, life saving and resuscitation techniques and other information required by the Row Safe Guide section 1.3 are displayed in the Club.
2.5 The WSA will support the Regatta Committee in the development of Safety Plans for Merseyside Regatta and the Head of the Float. The Row Safe Guide section 1.4 refers.
3. Rules for Water Safety
3.1 The Club Rules for Water Safety summarise the essentials of correct behaviour while handling a rowing boat. The Committee may amend the Rules for Safety at any time in response to changed circumstances. They are appended to this policy (Appendix 1).
3.2 All members (except Social Members who may not use the boats) must be able to swim at least 100 metres in light clothing. Applicants for membership must so affirm on their application form. Applicants for Junior membership must provide a signed statement from their parents or guardian that they are able to do so and may be required to demonstrate their ability to the satisfaction of the Club Safety Adviser or the Junior Co-ordinator.
3.3 Junior members (all members below the age of 18 years) will be required to undertake a capsize drill at a local swimming baths when arranged by the Club.
3.4 Voluntary swimming in the Float is strongly discouraged.
4.1 Scullers and rowers must always check their equipment before they boat to ensure that there are no loose or missing parts and particularly that:
4.1.1 The boat has a securely fixed bow ball
4.1.2 The heel restraints are correctly positioned and secure
4.1.3 The riggers and gates are tightly fitted to the boat
4.1.4 All hatches are closed
4.1.5 The steering is working properly
4.1.6 The stretcher(s) is/are securely fixed
4.2 If a member feels that any item of equipment is unsafe, they should notify the Club Captain or the Water Safety Adviser as soon as possible. If a member is unsure of their competence to make these checks they should ask for the advice of a senior member of the Club.
4.3 Boats, oars and sculls should be washed after use to help ensure their continuing safe condition. Particular attention should be paid to washing the riggers and rigger bolts free of salt water.
4.4 Coxless boats are primarily for the use of experienced crews. Novices may only use coxless boats with the permission of the Captain or other member of the captaincy team.
5. Equipment Damage and Accident Reporting
5.1 All incidents must be reported, even minor ones such as capsizes that do not involve any other boats and in which no one is injured or collisions in which only minor damage is caused. Near incidents, where a threatened incident was avoided or an unsafe situation existed, must also be reported. Reports must be made using the BR Online Reporting System.
5.2 All members should be trained in the use of the incident reporting system.
5.3 The WSA will ensure that copies of all Incident reports are sent to the Assistant Harbour Master (D&S), Mersey Docks and Harbour Company. Copies must also be retained in the Club for at least four years.
5.4 The Safety Adviser will regularly monitor the Club incident log on the BR online system and advise the Committee on the results and will also make an annual summary report of all reportable incidents, sending copies to the Assistant Harbour Master (D&S), MDHC.
5.5 Equipment or components must not be removed from one boat to remedy a deficiency or damage in another. Doing so merely transfers the problem to the other boat where it may be discovered unexpectedly and cause an even greater problem.
5.6 Simple damage to equipment, such as that caused by knocking a boat against something while carrying it, need not be reported through the ARA online system but must be entered in the Club Damage to Equipment book in the foyer. If the boat is then unsafe to use it must be taken out of use and its quarantine status indicated by at least one of the Out of Use labels.
6. Use of the Water
6.1 Circulation pattern
6.1.1 The basic circulation pattern on the Float is anti-clockwise. This follows from the keep to the right rule. When travelling from the boathouse to Duke Street Bridge, keep more closely to the Birkenhead side. When returning from Duke Street Bridge to the boathouse, keep to the Wallasey side.
6.1.2 Different circulation patterns may be specified for special events such as Merseyside Regatta or the Head of The Float. These will be published diagrammatically and displayed in the boathouse. They apply only to the day of the event for which they are designed.
6.1.3 Notwithstanding the required circulation pattern, which is intended to keep crews apart from one another, crews must always keep well away from moving commercial traffic
6.2 Contact Dockmaster
6.2.1 The first crew or sculler to boat each day must contact the Birkenhead Dockmaster by telephoning 949 6800 (this number is pre-programmed into the Club telephone) and asking what shipping movements are expected for that day. The information received must then be written, with the date, on the wipe board on the inside of the front door for the information of other crews boating that day.
6.2.2 If it is proposed to row after dark (see paragraph 7) the Dockmaster should be contacted again just before the outing to confirm there has been no change in the expected shipping movements or in the positions of moored ships.
6.3 Escape points
At various points around the Float there are steps and ladders where it is possible to climb out of the water unaided. There are also a number of places where the quay wall is low enough to land and climb out and members should make themselves familiar with all these escape points. A map of the dock showing escape points is displayed in the boat store.
6.4 Adverse conditions
6.4.1 When rough water caused by strong wind makes it doubtful whether it is safe to row, the coach(es) or the Club captain will make a decision as to the extent to which rowing is permissible. Their decision will be final. Novices should not normally be allowed to row in adverse conditions but special consideration may be given to the experience and level of competence of a crew.
6.4.2 In cold weather and after dark this decision must be taken with particular caution. See sections 7 and 8 below. General guidelines for taking this decision are given in Appendix 4.
6.4.3 In borderline conditions permission to row may be given but with the conditions that all Juniors remain in sight of the boathouse and that single scullers do not go out alone but only in the company of another boat.
6.5 East Float
Access to the East Float is not currently permitted and boats must not go through Duke Street Bridge at any time.
7. Lifejackets and Buoyancy Aids
7.1.All coxswains, launch drivers, launch crew members and passengers must wear life jackets or buoyancy aids (PFDs) while on the water. These may be borrowed from the rack in the boathouse; they should be checked for wear and tear before each use and must be returned to the rack after use. They should be left on the rack to dry out naturally away from a heat source.
7.2 Coxes of bow loader boats should not wear life jackets that inflate on contact with water or, in the event of a capsize, the cox may become trapped in the upturned boat. Neither should they wear bulky foam-filled buoyancy aids. To allow unrestricted escape from the boat a manually operated life jacket must be worn
7.3 Junior beginners must wear a PFD until they have completed a swim test, received training in capsize procedure and reached a satisfactory level of competence.
7.4 All lifejackets and buoyancy aids should be checked regularly and in accordance with the manufacturers instructions.
7.5 When working with participants whose safety is also the responsibility of the Local Education Authority or other relevant body, the Club will comply with any additional safety measures required by that body.
8. Rowing in the Dark
8.1 The expressions "in the dark" and "after dark" refer to the period between half an hour after sunset and half an hour before sunrise.
8.2 The BR Row Safe Guide draws attention to the additional hazards of rowing or sculling in the dark or in poor visibility. However, it is recognised that competitive crews need to row on weekdays as well as at the weekend and during the winter it may only be possible to do so by rowing after dark. Crews may be permitted to row after dark on the following conditions:
8.2.1 Crews wishing to row after dark must obtain the advance permission of the Captain. This permission will not be given to coxless boats, scullers or beginners except as detailed below in Appendix 3 paragraph 1. It will be required that all crews are coxed by experienced coxes authorised by the Committee to cox after dark.
8.2.2 J16 or younger Juniors may not row in the dark and older Juniors (J17 and J18) may do so only as members of a crew in which the majority of rowers are Seniors.
8.2.3 After dark only two crews will be allowed on the water at the same time and each crew must be accompanied by a safety launch crewed by an authorised helmsman and one other person. One of these should be the coach.
8.2.4 The coach has an underlying responsibility for the safety of his/her crews and, together with the captain if he/she is present, will take the decision as to whether it is safe to row after dark on any particular occasion. Coaches should familiarise themselves with their responsibilities as detailed throughout the Row Safe Guide.
8.2.5 After dark all boats must display white lights visible through 360 degrees. Rowing boats will carry two white lights, one on the bow canvas and one on the stern canvas, and launches will carry one white light on a mast.
8.2.6 A detailed procedure for rowing after dark is given in Appendix 3. This procedure will be posted in the boathouse.
8.3 A crew boating at or near to sunset should carry the white lights required for rowing in the dark (see paragraph 7.2.5) even though it may not yet be dark.
9. Cold Weather
9.1 In cold weather, especially during the winter months, the risk of becoming chilled to the point of hypothermia because of wearing insufficient clothing or because of inexperienced crews not exercising vigorously enough to generate sufficient body heat is a real danger. Sufficient thin layers of appropriate clothing to retain body heat should always be worn. In windy or wet conditions the outer layer should be wind and waterproof. Coxes especially should be well protected and their clothing should include a hat and gloves.
9.2 The hazard posed by rough water is greatly increased by cold conditions. To fall in or to be swamped and wet through on a warm summer day may be not unpleasant. On a cold winter day it may be extremely dangerous. Therefore, the decision as to whether rough conditions make it unsafe to row (see paragraph 6.5 above) must be taken with much greater caution in cold weather.
9.3 Younger and lighter people are more liable to hypothermia than bigger adults. No Junior members must be allowed to boat unless they are adequately clothed for the prevailing conditions.
9.4 The symptoms and signs of hypothermia are listed in Appendix 2. This list is taken from the BR Water Safety Code, where guidance on the treatment of hypothermia is also given.
10. Coaching/Safety Launches
10.1 Club launches may be driven only by persons authorised by the Committee to do so. When operating as a safety launch they must also carry a crewman.
10.2 The Club will conduct or arrange training courses and tests for those needing to become authorised drivers.
10.3 Launch drivers should carry a Club mobile phone pre-programmed (speed dial) with the Club telephone number and the numbers of any other launch drivers.
10.4 During Junior rowing sessions the Club will ensure that a safety launch with a designated driver is on the water and ready for immediate use.
10.5 Launches shall carry the following safety aids: paddle, bailer, throw line, thermal exposure blankets, basic first aid kit and sound signalling device. After dark they shall also carry a powerful torch.
11.1 The deck of the floating stage will be inspected weekly by the Safety Adviser or the Premises Manager. If there is any indication that the surface is becoming slippery it will be cleaned to restore the slip resistant properties.
11.2 The yellow hazard warning paint along the edge of the quay wall and along the inner edge of the stage will be included in the weekly inspection and repainted as necessary to maintain maximum visibility.
11.3 The buoyancy of the stage will be included in the weekly inspection to confirm that the stage is still floating level with the correct freeboard. Any necessary adjustments will be made or repairs arranged for.
12.1 When the boathouse is occupied the roller shutter outside the rear emergency door must be kept raised.
12.2 In the event of fire all persons must leave the building by the nearest exit. Green signs with a running man indicate exits. Do not stop to collect personal possessions. Assemble at the Fire Assembly Point under the notice on the corner of the neighbouring warehouse nearest the road gate.
12.3 Fire extinguishers are located throughout the boathouse.
12.4 The Premises Manager will test the alarm system not less frequently than once a month and will record the test in the Fire Safety Book.
May 2009, Version 5.1
Rules for Water Safety
1 Non-swimmers may not go out in boats.
2. When going against tide or current keep close into the bank.
3. When going with tide or current keep clear of all craft coming in the opposite direction.
4. When leaving the stage look in both directions.
5. Keep clear of all racing and power boats and sailing craft.
6. Do not cross in front of oncoming vessels.
7. If there is a stream go well clear of bridges before turning.
8. Do not change places in a boat while afloat.
9. If your boat sinks or capsizes HOLD ON TO IT UNTIL HELP COMES. If help does not come, swim WITH IT to the bank. Stay with the boat and use it to keep yourself afloat.
10. Extreme caution must be observed when boating in adverse weather conditions.
11. All scullers must obtain permission to use a sculling boat from an officer. Novice scullers must always be supervised until passed as proficient.
12. If another boat is on a collision course with you or another boat, shout "AHEAD SCULLER/FOUR/...!"
13. It is important for rowers, especially Juniors, to wear sufficient clothing. Crews who appear to be inadequately dressed should be prevented from boating.
1. Keep to the right of the dock (West Float) at all times. (The right is the cox's right, that is, bow side/starboard side of the boat.) Boats may not go through Duke Street Bridge into the East Float.
2. You may not be on the water earlier than half an hour before sunrise or later than half an hour after sunset except on the conditions detailed in paragraph 7 and Appendix 3.
3. Keep well clear of all vessels moving or about to move. Be aware that the screw of a vessel may be turning even when it is being towed.
N.B. Keep even further away from vessels than is necessary for your own safety. It is important that ships' masters or pilots do not feel that the proximity of one of our boats inhibits their freedom of action in any way. If a ship is manoeuvring it may be necessary to keep completely away from that area of the Float.
4. Do not attempt to race tugs or to row through heavy wash or swell. Be sure you know what to do if a passing vessel has left a big swell. Racing shells have a very high aspect ratio and, contrary to usual boat handling practice, should take a swell beam (side) on; by keeping the blades pressed out and on the water and, holding the boat level, they can ride over the swell. Tub pairs and Ahoy sculling boats can
comfortably take a swell bows on, although in a big swell water will break over the riggers. Launches should take a swell bows on.
5. Keep clear of the graving dock pumping outlet when it is in operation.
6. Make yourself familiar with the positions of steps, ladders and other places in the dockside where it is possible to get yourself out of the water unaided.
7. Single scullers should carry a whistle.
8. The last key holder to leave the Club should, before locking up, check that all the boats are in place on the racks and no-one is still out on the water.
Hypothermia occurs when the whole of the body has been chilled to a much lower than normal temperature and can no longer maintain its heat, that is, a temperature lower than 35 deg. C.
1 Symptoms and signs of hypothermia
The following are the most usual symptoms and signs, but may not all be present:
a) Unexpected and unreasonable behaviour possibly accompanied by complaints of coldness and tiredness.
b) Physical and mental lethargy with failure to understand questions or orders.
c) Slurring of speech.
d) Violent outburst of unexpected energy and violent language, becoming uncooperative.
e) Failure of, or abnormality in, vision.
g) Lack of control of limbs, unsteadiness and complaining of numbness and cramp.
h) General shock with pallor and blueness of lips and nails
i) Slow weak pulse, wheezing and coughing.
Procedure for Rowing in the Dark
(For the purpose of this procedure 'in the dark' or 'after dark' means during the period between half an hour after sunset and half an hour before sunrise.)
1. No boats may row or continue to row after dark without the advance permission of the Captain. This permission will not be given to coxless boats, scullers or beginners except only that the Committee may, at the request of the Captain, give permission for a specific crew of named experienced rowers to take a coxless boat out after dark if they are accompanied by a launch dedicated to that particular coxless boat and carrying another senior member as well as the driver.
2. The Water Safety Adviser will post the times of sunrise and sunset on a notice board.
3. No J16 or younger Junior may row after dark. J17 or J18 Juniors may only row after dark as members of a crew in which the majority of rowers are Seniors.
4. Only experienced coxes authorised by the Committee may take boats out after dark; no J16 coxes may do so.
5. Immediately before boating after dark, the Dock Master must be telephoned to confirm that there has been no change in expected shipping movements and that the positions of moored ships have not changed. All crews must return to the stage at least a quarter of an hour before shipping movement is expected and must not boat again until any arriving ship is alongside the quay with its screw stopped and any departing ship has passed through Duke Street Bridge.
6. The coach has an underlying responsibility for the safety of the outing and he/she, together with the captain, will take the decision as to whether it is safe to row after dark on any particular occasion. In calm conditions, a safety launch should sweep the intended rowing area to look for and remove any floating objects that may present a hazard.
7. After dark, not more than two boats may be on the water at the same time and each boat must be accompanied by a safety launch crewed by an authorised helmsman and one other person, one of whom should be the coach.
8. After dark all boats must display white lights visible through 360 degrees. Rowing boats will have two lights, one on the bow canvas and one on the stern, and launches will have one light on a mast.
9. All crew members and coxes boating after dark should wear high visibility waistcoats over their rowing kit.
10. The circulation pattern must be strictly adhered to but particular caution should be exercised on the Birkenhead side where there are lengths of quay with little or no lighting.
11. After dark safety launches must carry a powerful torch in addition to the standard safety equipment and mobile phones pre-programmed (speed dial) with the Club telephone number and the number of any other launch driver.
12. While boats are on the water after dark an experienced person must remain at the boathouse as a contact in case of emergency.
Note: Lights, phones and torches are kept in the Committee Room.
A copy of this procedure should be posted on an appropriate notice board.
Safe rowing in adverse conditions
Before every outing the coach(es) or the Club captain will make a decision as to whether or not it is safe to row on that occasion. Their decision will be final. The decision should always be taken with caution and should err on the side of safety.
The following factors should be considered when making the decision.
· The strength of the wind. As a rough guide, if the waves are showing white caps it is too rough for a useful outing and is probably too rough for safety.
· The temperature. Any accident will be much more dangerous in cold weather. Wind conditions in which a decision to allow rowing might be taken in warm weather should be more likely to result in a decision to not row in cold weather.
· Rain. Significant rain might be tolerable in the summer but intolerable in the winter when it will greatly increase the risk of hypothermia.
· Poor visibility. Darkness is a special case. The Club policy on rowing after dark is given in Section 7 and a detailed procedure is given in Appendix 3. This procedure should also be considered when visibility is reduced because of fog or other reasons.
· The age of the crew. Young people are more vulnerable to adverse conditions than adults and should not be allowed to row in conditions that an adult crew might find acceptable.
· The experience of the crew. Beginners should not be allowed to row in adverse conditions.
· The boats to be used. For example, eights might be allowed to row in conditions in which single scullers would not be allowed.
· The area to be used. In borderline conditions permission to row may be given with the proviso that the boats do not go out of sight of the boathouse.