The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) holds its annual “Safe Boarding Week” from 3 to 7 July, in order to promote awareness and compliance with Canal requirements, to ensure safety of ship personnel, as well as others using these facilities. During this period, the ACP emphasizes and encourage safe boarding practices on all vessels arriving at the waterway.
“Safe Boarding Week” activities involve inspections of boarding facilities on behalf of personnel who normally board vessels, such as Canal Port Captains, Pilots, Transit Vessel Inspectors, Chemists, Emergency Response personnel, Admeasurers, Deckhands, as well as ship’s agents.
- Vessels at both Cristobal and Balboa Anchorages are boarded to inspect their boarding facility arrangements, utilizing the enclosed inspection checklist.
- Vessel masters will be provided with the results of the inspection and those vessels deserving special recognition for excellence will be presented with a special plaque following the inspection.
- Vessels with boarding facilities determined to be below acceptable standards must correct the deficiencies prior to transit.
With the opening of the Cocoli and Agua Clara Locks of the expanded Canal, the ACP will continue promoting preventive measures, such as avoiding the tripping hazard created by the retrieving line attached to the pilot ladder, as well as the excess portion of the pilot ladders, which is very often laid out on deck.
The ACP suggests a box-like structure be placed over the excess portion of the ladder that may be encountered at the embarkation point on deck, which will provide for a flat, non-slippery surface as persons transfer from the ladder to the deck of the vessel. This structure may be permanent or may be constructed so that it is lightweight and portable, allowing for it to be used as the situation warrants.