Deck Safety: Avoiding Slips, Trips and Falls on Board Your Boat


Article by, YouBoatDeck Safety

How safe is your boat’s deck? Before you next set sail, it’s worth conducting a risk assessment, paying particular attention to anything that could lead to slips, trips or falls. For example, you might discover wear and tear, loose wires, displaced gratings or wobbly railings. Is your path blocked by equipment or other obstructions? Are there plenty of handholds? Is the lighting adequate at night?

Decks are floating platforms exposed to the elements, so they don’t always provide a stable surface to walk on, especially when vessels list, lurch or roll. That makes them inherently hazardous. Marine safety must be every sailor’s first priority. To make your deck safer, it’s crucial to perform regular safety inspections and resolve any issues.

Most Sailing Injuries Occur When People Lose Their Footing

A poorly maintained deck can all too easily become a marine accident hotspot. In particular, the danger of losing your footing shouldn’t be underestimated. According to data from the European Maritime Safety Agency, slips, trips and falls are the most common causes of injury when sailing. Between 2011 and 2018, a staggering 2,921 cases of people being injured as a result of losing their balance on board were reported in the EU. That means slips, trips and falls accounted for almost 40% of all sailing injuries during that period.

To help you avoid incidents like that, let’s consider ways to improve deck safety.

Keep the Deck Free of Clutter

It’s dangerous to leave tools, ropes, ladders, fish bins, etc. lying around (or worse, rolling about) on deck.

Ensure items are properly stowed away after use so that your deck is as clear as possible.

Apply an Anti-Slip Coating

A key product in YouBoat’s marine paint and antifouling range is Non-Slip Deck Paint. This easy-to-apply acrylic paint contains fine granules to improve grip underfoot.

The paint dries quickly (it can be touch dry in just a few hours), plus it’s hardwearing and resistant to sunlight and saltwater.

Another option is to install grip pads on parts of the deck that are precarious or frequently in use, such as steps.

Remove Dirt with Non-Skid Cleaning Products

A build-up of dirt can affect the ability of non-slip surfaces to prevent accidents.

In order to clean your deck without damaging it or leaving behind a slippery residue, use a specialist marine cleaning solution such as Non-Skid Deck Cleaner. It’s suitable for textured, painted and smooth surfaces, removes dirt and stains, and guards against future soiling.

Simply douse the area to be cleaned with water, apply the cleaning solution and spread it out evenly with a deck brush. After a few minutes, scrub, rinse thoroughly and leave to dry naturally.

On a related note, if you happen to spill something on your deck, remember to mop it up as soon as possible to reduce the risk of accidents.

Wear Footwear with Excellent Grip

Deck shoes have an important role to play in helping you stay on your feet. If you have any concerns about your current shoes, particularly the soles, don’t hesitate to replace them.

Look for footwear designed specifically for sailing and made by reputable brands. The high-performance Dubarry Easkey Aquasport Deck Trainer has a secure lacing system for improved foot stability, plus a non-slip sole. In choppy, cold conditions, you can rely on the superb grip provided by the warm, waterproof Orca Bay Storm Boot.

Don’t Overlook the Value of Safety Lines

Imagine you’re on deck carrying out a maintenance job that involves working with both hands at the same time; you can’t hold onto the boat with one hand to keep yourself steady. This is the kind of situation in which wearing a safety line can be invaluable. It tethers you to the vessel, helping you to avoid falling over or, worse, going overboard.

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