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Safety and marine coatings

Coatings are capable of more than just protecting against corrosion. Though that may be their most important job, and one that keeps crews working on barges and tugboats safe from the obvious problems associated with a corroding hull, coatings are also capable of playing 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, maybe even especially so, given the tendency of surfaces constantly exposed to moisture to become slippery, the eye strain of going from a bright, sunny deck to a dark cargo hold or the especially high stakes 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. Given that, according to OSHA, slips, trips and falls rank behind only motor vehicle accidents as the cause of workplace fatalities, it’s not hard to see why non-skid coatings are so important. Beyond simply being effective at 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 they need to retain their function even if 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 all 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 a 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 well being of crews. This ensures that the fresh water supply is safely contained and free from contaminants that could cause sickness.

Protecting the environment

Recent booms in domestic oil production have seen an increase in oil moving by barge. This influx of oil traveling our nation’s waterways makes it worthwhile to remind owners that oil leaks are not solely caused by collisions. Especially given the new composition of crude, 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. Don’t let an improperly lined tank be the next headline-grabbing catastrophe, 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. Download our product catalog to find a reliable marine coating.


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