Electrical Hazards from the Race Management Handbook (2001-04)
Electrical hazards are a serious consideration in the organization of regattas. Onshore they include roadways leading to areas that sailors will use, driveways, yards, parking areas, rigging areas, launching areas and beaches.
Hazards over water include those over any navigable water - across harbors, entrances to harbors, channels, rivers or creeks, and nearby anchorages and beaches. Hazards around docks include power lines facing docks, overhead lines along docks, lighting, and outlets for power to boats.
Appoint a knowledgeable person to identify all electrical hazards around the facilities, access ways, and sailing areas to be used. Record and photograph all overhead lines. Include those along the boundaries of approach roads, rigging areas, parking areas, and other areas where sailors may be involved in stepping or unstepping masts, or tilting or carrying boats with masts stepped.
Check all areas for height clearances. Remember to account for high water when you are measuring areas where the boat will be afloat. Make absolutely certain that there is adequate clearance for all boats that will be in the area. The sag of power lines changes with temperature, so err on the safe side.
Eliminate identified hazards if possible. Ask people within your organization who may have some influence to meet with you and local authorities (your local power supplier, municipal officials, and others involved in the decision-making process) about the need to eliminate them.
Meet with neighboring groups who face common hazards, and enlist their support for a joint effort.
Make presentations to the highest officials possible. Encourage them to survey the hazards. Attend the survey with them, to be certain they understand the details and appreciate the magnitude of the exposure to each hazard. Utilities and municipalities do not necessarily understand boats.
Be prepared to discuss the alternatives for each solution (burying the wires, rerouting them, raising them out of reach, or eliminating the lines). Work with the utility or municipality to show "safe clearance height" at a given water level, including suitable water level indicators near signs located on all power poles in water. Ask that "Warning Buoys" be strategically located all along the hazard to call attention to it.
Urge the utility or municipality to act immediately. The cost of eliminating the danger will be the same before or after an accident occurs (it is less before, if there is a subsequent suit for injuries or death).
As long as any hazard exists:
1. Identify and describe each hazard on a chart. Make the chart available to all prospective participants or make sure it is a part of the Notice of Race. Post the chart on the notice board;
2. Call attention at organizational and competitors' meetings;
3. Mark the hazard with conspicuous signs showing: "DANGER" and "SAFE HEIGHT, FEET";
4. If the hazard is on your organization’s property, fence it off to prevent cars, trailers and hand-carried boats from getting close to it, and to prevent boats with raised masts from being pushed, trailed or carried under it. Put a beam across the roadway, driveway or launch ramp that is safely below hazard's height, or add poles and string a safety line on each side, but below the hazard, to intercept a mast before it comes into contact. Paint the driveway under the hazard suitably (for example, with orange or yellow stripes). Spray paint grass or dirt under hazard. Mark poles and towers with radar reflectors where large offshore boats are involved;
5. If necessary, assign a Safety Director to act as a "watchdog", or assign a patrol boat, to warn sailors about critical areas during regattas (from when you expect the boats to start arriving to when you have advised the boats to be cleared of the area).
The National Electric Code of the National Fire Protection Association has specific regulations regarding wiring and outlets on and serving docks. Contact your local electrical inspector, your insurance underwriter, or a competent local electrical contractor to inspect wiring to and around your docks. Correct any hazards he/she points out.
Make certain that launching ramps are in good condition and safe for use. If carpet or nonskid used on the ramps is in poor condition, replace it immediately. Check whether the ramp areas and docks contain nails or other items that might constitute a hazard while launching or docking.
Check electrical connections along docks and near ramp areas for proper condition, and make sure that lighting along docks provides adequate illumination