Chapter 14 -Avoid surprises

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A breakdown at sea is an unwelcome surprise. If you are not prepared, you may feel the same about a visit from an inspector to check that your vessel meets regulatory requirements.

You can prevent dangerous situations as well as avoid costly breakdowns and penalties by:

  • keeping your vessel in top running order; and
  • making sure that it continues to comply with the law.

Be Organized

Create an Operations and Training Manual

We suggest that you create a reference tool that prevents maintenance from being overlooked and helps you prove that you are fulfilling your legal responsibilities.

How? Simply call 1-800-O-Canada to request a copy. In it you will find examples of policies, procedures, personnel records, compliance checklists and maintenance schedules that you can change to suit your operation. For example, change the sample maintenance schedule by including the servicing recommendations by the manufacturers of the different vessel components to make a maintenance plan for your vessel.

Your complete operations and training manual should include:

  • your maintenance plan;
  • the written policies and procedures that you are required to have by law; and
  • records of all training activities and drills.

Compliance Verification

The owner and the operator are responsible for meeting their responsibilities under the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 and its associated regulations. The primary responsibilities under the Act are summarized in Appendix 1.

To help you and to protect the public, Transport Canada has developed a program to promote small commercial vessel safety. In addition to its education and awareness activities, such as producing this guide, the program reviews and amends safety requirements and monitors vessels to see that owners and operators are meeting their responsibilities for complying with safety requirements.

Transport Canada inspectors and its enforcement partners may come by at any time to check:

  • the condition of the vessel and that it meets the construction requirements;
  • that all required equipment is on board, in good shape and accessible; and
  • that crew members are properly certified and trained.

The amount of time that this will take depends on the risks involved in your operation and what they find.You may be able to reduce the time the enforcement officers are on board if you provide them with records from your operations and training manual that are up to date and show that you are meeting all of your responsibilities.

If you do not comply, you may be fined or charged with an offence and have to appear in court. If your vessel is found to be unsafe, it will be detained until it no longer poses a hazard. The offences that carry penalties and the amount of the penalties are found in the Administrative Monetary Penalties Regulations. The Canada Shipping Act, 2001 also states offences and punishment applicable in case of a summary conviction in court.

Tools for Checking Compliance

Contact your local Transport Canada Centre to obtain a compliance check package. It will help you become more familiar with the laws governing your operation and guide you on carrying out regular examinations of your vessel, equipment and other safety requirements using a checklist like the one in Appendix 5. Keep completed checklists in your operations and training manual to demonstrate that you take your responsibilities seriously.

Let others know that safety is a priority for you. Complete and send the declaration from the compliance check package to your local Transport Canada Centre. You will receive a decal showing that you participate in the Transport Canada small commercial vessel safety program the first time you do so, and a sticker showing the year of the compliance check each time thereafter.

Planned Maintenance

Servicing your vessel according to a schedule will keep your vessel at peak performance, economy, and safety. It will also safeguard the environment, extend the life of your vessel and increase its resale value.

A routine maintenance schedule and frequent checks of fluid levels, high-wear items, the engine, hull, electrical system and accessories will help your vessel function at top level. Emergency maintenance may still be required, but not as often. Take care of faulty gear or equipment right away: repair it, replace it or take it out of service. Quick action can save the cost of a large repair later and it will help keep your vessel safe for passengers and crew.

It is a good idea to keep a log of repairs and parts replacements. Include the part numbers for filters, belts and other frequently replaced items. This will help you keep track of equipment that needs regular servicing and parts that must be replaced often. For example, by noting the time between zinc anode replacements, you will get an idea of how quickly they are used (which is mostly related to time and not engine hours) so you can schedule future replacements.

Set maintenance intervals by the number of hours of service or number of months, whichever comes first. Follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule. All engines require service and inspection at specified intervals. Take time to read your engine maintenance manuals and prepare your own maintenance plan using the sample maintenance schedule in Appendix 4 as a guide.

More Information

To consult your local Transport Canada Centre, see Appendix 2.

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