Safety Policies


Shipboard Safety

The Master is responsible for the safety of all personnel aboard the vessel. Posted rules and directions are to be followed by all scientists, and special precautions should be taken when hazardous conditions exist (e.g., excessive ship motion, wet footing).

Hardhats are available and should be worn for deck work involving overhead loads, cranes, and swinging equipment. 

Work vests must be worn when handling gear deployed over the side and any deck work at night. 

The smooth operation of the science program requires continuous communication between science and ship personnel. Keep the bridge watch informed of your intentions at all times.

NEVER put any gear over the side without first consulting the bridge.

The scientific party is responsible for securing all gear in laboratories and science areas. Ask for assistance from one of the technicians or crew if there are questions about securing any equipment.

International Safety Management (ISM) Guidelines

New guidelines for safety aboard UNOLS vessels went into full effect on July 1, 2002. These regulations concern working conditions during oceanographic research cruises and are designed to ensure strict conformity to all existing safety standards.
» WHOI Safety Management Manual

The following sections of the guidelines may directly impact the science party:

Safety Shoes - Anyone working on deck with lifting equipment will need to wear approved safety shoes. It is the individual’s responsibility to obtain and wear approved safety shoes. This directly affects any overboarding activities that the science party is planning, such as CTD casts, trawls, dredging, etc. 

Wet Weight Handling Equipment - According to the Code of Federal Regulation (CFR), all wet weight handling equipment must meet certain safety regulations. This certification must be documented. This is especially important for science parties that bring their own equipment to be used on the vessel, as documentation must be produced to verify compliance.

If you will be bringing Wet Weight Handling Gear (Winches, cranes, blocks, etc), please contact the Marine Resource Coordinator to help you through this documentation process.  It can take some time to finish this process, so the sooner you initiate contact the better.

Portable Vans - All portable vans must meet certain criteria to be acceptable for use aboard our vessels. The UNOLS checklist can be found here.

UNOLS Research Vessel Safety Standards

» RVOC Safety Training Manual - Chapter 1

» UNOLS Research Vessel Safety Standards document
Please feel free to contact the Research Vessel Science Coordinator with any questions.

Hazardous Material Policy

Pre-Cruise - Chief Scientist will provide to WHOI:

  • A list of materials by chemical name, common name, type and classification using the Hazardous Material Inventory form.
  • A listing of the neutralizing agents, buffers and/or absorbents required for the materials in the event of a spill.
  • Metal or glass containers with plastic shockproof exteriors are recommended as storage containers.
Upon Boarding - Chief Scientist will provide to Master:
  • An inventory of all hazardous materials brought aboard by science party.
  • MSDS for all hazardous material.
Upon Departure - Scientific Party will provide to Master:
  • An inventory of hazardous material showing all that has been depleted, removed ashore, or properly stored aboard for later removal.
Chemical Spill Response
  • The science party must supply spill kits for large amounts and unique Hazardous Materials. This spill response material must accompany the chemicals when they come aboard.

Radioactive Material Policy

For WHOI Research personnel, prior approval by the RSO and Radiation Safety Committee is required for all work involving the use of sealed sources and/or radioactive material on board WHOI research vessels.

For Non-WHOI Research personnel who wish to conduct research under WHOI’s Radioactive Material License, prior approval by the RSO and Radiation Safety Committee is required for all work involving the use of sealed sources and/or radioactive material on board WHOI research vessels.

A Radioactive Material Use Authorization Request must be completed and submitted well in advance (a minimum of 60 days is requested) of the intended field use to allow adequate time for evaluation.

A request must be submitted for each cruise or field use .

Appendix D of the WHOI Radiation Safety Manual  includes details of specific information needed for the Authorization Request.

The Research Vessel Science Coordinator may be consulted directly for specific information or advice.

Diving Policy

All diving under the auspices of the Institution (i.e., aboard WHOI vessels or using WHOI-owned equipment) shall be conducted according to the regulations promulgated in the latest revision of the WHOI Diving Safety Manual. All research diving must be approved in advance by the Institution Diving Safety Officer (DSO) or Diving Control Board (DCB). Only those divers currently authorized by the DSO or DCB may dive under Institution auspices.

The Chief Scientist is personally responsible for ensuring that research diving activities are conducted in accordance with all applicable regulations. The Chief Scientist must supply copies of all diver credentials, completed physical examination forms, cruise diving plans and similar documents to the DSO and must nominate a Cruise Diving Supervisor (dive master) at least two weeks prior to commencement of the cruise. Specific information, requirements, and forms are available from the DSO.

The Cruise Diving Supervisor must be approved by the DSO or DCB and shall be responsible for planning, organizing, and managing the diving operations during the cruise. Other responsibilities of the Cruise Diving Supervisor are as follows: 

  • Submit to the DSO or DCB for approval written emergency plans for the cruise, which must include an evacuation plan to transport an injured diver to a certified recompression chamber
  • Ensure, as a minimum, that there is a sufficient supply of oxygen and an appropriate type of resuscitation equipment aboard
  • Plan and conduct diving emergency drills
  • Ensure that a trial communication contact has been made with the Divers Alert Network and the Medical Advisory System (MAS) prior to commencement of diving operations
  • Brief the ship’s Master and vessel personnel on the diving operations, emphasizing pertinent safety factors
  • Submit all cruise dive logs and a detailed report of any diving-related accident, injury, or dangerous incident to the DSO as soon as possible
The Master of the vessel retains ultimate authority for all diving operations conducted from the ship, which includes terminating all diving operations if, in the Master’s judgment, conditions endanger the vessel or personnel. The Master or watch officer will relay information of dive preparations to other crew members, especially engine room personnel. The Master or watch officer must give a positive response to the research dive team before anyone leaves the ship. A small boat operated by a member of the ship's crew will be used to support diving operations. The boat operator shall be continuously aware of the diver's locations and shall maintain effective communication with the watch officer of the ship.

For further information contact the Diving Safety Officer, Ed O'Brien, at (508) 289-2239, fax (508) 457-2195 or email