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Safety and marine coatings

Coatings are capable of more than just protecting against corrosion. They also play a wider role in making marine vessels safer places to work.

We’ve written before about how, for a fraction of a facility’s maintenance budget, safety coatings can help to cut back on workplace accidents. The same holds true for the marine market. Surfaces are constantly exposed to moisture and become slippery. Going from a bright, sunny deck to a dark cargo hold can strain the eyes. Coatings are especially important in the case of a fire while on the water.

Safety and marine coatings

Making marine work safer

Non-skid coatings are becoming recognized as essential in the marine market.

It’s not hard to see why non-skid coatings are so important. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, roughly 126 marine cargo handlers reported missing work in 2019 due to slips, trips and falls. Four people suffered fatal injuries in deep sea freight transportation that year.

Beyond preventing wet surfaces from becoming slippery, non-skid marine coatings need to be durable, easy to apply (especially if they’re going to be applied while on the water) and remain functional when subjected to fuel or chemical spills.

Luminescent coatings also have a lot to offer the marine market. Making the transition from sunny conditions above deck to much darker conditions below deck can strain the eyes. Often the pace of work doesn’t allow time to let the eyes adjust. But glow-in-the-dark marine coatings can illuminate obstructions both overhead and underfoot.

Bulkheads, low-hanging ventilation systems and narrow walkways can be made more visible with a solution that’s inexpensive, easy to maintain and also serves as a reliable backup in the case of a power outage. But the most important area for luminescent coatings is the leading edge of the tugboat or barge. In low-light situations, or in the case of a total power outage, an illuminated bow will give the crew and others an idea of the outline of the vessel. This can prove instrumental in avoiding accidents.

Given the potential costs of a fire while on the water, fireproof marine coatings are certainly an option for making vessels safer that should be explored. Intumescent coatings protecting the structural steel of a vessel can make the difference between the outbreak of a small fire and completely losing the craft. If a barge’s normal operations put it at an increased risk of encountering a fire, fireproof marine coatings make obvious sense.

Ensuring that potable water tanks are lined with an NSA-approved tank lining is another essential step in looking out for the wellbeing of crews. This ensures that the fresh water supply is safely contained and free from contaminants that could cause sickness.

Protecting the environment

Booms in domestic oil production increased the rate of oil moving by barge, though it still falls behind pipelines and railroads, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

The oil traveling our nation’s waterways makes it worthwhile to remind owners that tank linings should be the subject of intense scrutiny. If transporting fuel that was extracted by hydraulic fracturing, a barge’s oil tanks should be equal to the task, lined with a product that can withstand higher concentrations of water.

Unfortunately, the American public is all too familiar with oil-related incidents on our waterways. So talk to a coatings professional about the state of your barge’s tank linings and ask about how a marine coatings maintenance plan can help to simplify the upkeep, while protecting against costly incidents.

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