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Towing Casualties Decline, but Fatalities Rise

tug and barge

By MarEx 2016-08-26 20:11:10

There were six crew fatalities in the U.S. towing industry in 2015, an increase of two over the previous year, translating to a projected fatality rate of seven per 100,000 workers. Three of these fatalities were the result of falls overboard which account for approximately 50 percent of towing vessel fatalities.

The statistics were compiled by the U.S. Coast Guard, in partnership with the American Waterways Operators (AWO), and released in the National Quality Steering Committee’s annual safety report. The report details towing industry data and safety measures for calendar years 1994 to 2015.  

Despite the increase in fatalities, there was a significant decrease (34 percent) in all towing vessel casualties recorded between 2014 and 2015. There were 1,184 marine casualties involving towing vessels or barges in 2015, and 84 percent of the towing vessel casualties were classified as low severity incidents. Medium and high severity incidents represented six percent and 10 percent of all casualties, respectively. 

This decrease in casualties may be attributed to changes in Coast Guard policy and procedures which impacted both marine casualty reporting and classification of incidents, states the report.

The report states that approximately 147,070 gallons of oil was spilled as a result of 68 tank barge pollution incidents in 2015. This translates to a projected oil spill rate of 1.92 gallons of oil spilled, per million gallons transported. Two incidents account for 97 percent of the volume spilled. 

The committee has convened several working groups to address oil spills, and most recently has focused efforts to address smaller spills resulting from oil transfers.

The report is available here.