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Human Resources Department

Occupational Safety & Health Unit

Marine Vessel Use

Aerial photo of Lake Sonoma

There are two sources of regulation governing the use of marine vessels: those for recreational vessels, and those used for industrial or commercial operations, including those used for policing the use of recreational vessels. While regulations for recreational vessels are primarily managed by the US Coast Guard and the US EPA, commercial vessel operations are subject to these as well as Cal-OSHA regulations for a safe and healthy workplace. California’s Air Resources Board (ARB) also have regulations for the control of emissions that apply to both recreational and commercial vessels. Cal-OSHA has very few marine vessel-specific regulations; however, the same regulations apply to marine vessels that would apply to any workplace. In addition to the regulations governing the vessels themselves, Cal-OSHA’s regulations apply for crew members as well as anyone working on land servicing marine vessels (repair, cargo handling, shipbuilding and construction). These would include exposures such as electrical, confined space, hazardous materials, respiratory, noise, personal protective equipment, and any other workplace regulations.

The US EPA regulations, contained in Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations, primarily address the preservation of the environment. This includes pollution by marine vessels, waste discharge into navigable waters and any other vessel-related actions that compromise the environment.

Marine vessels are required to be registered either with the US Department of Transportation (DOT) or the US Coast Guard.

To get more information on the applicability of marine vessel safety programs for a specific County operation please contact the corresponding departmental Safety Coordinator.

For further information on specific regulatory guidelines please refer to the link(s) below:

Injury and Illness Prevention Program

Ship Building, Ship Repairing and Ship Breaking Safety Orders (Cal-OSHA)

Floating Cranes, Derricks and Land Cranes, Derricks on Barges (Cal-OSHA Construction Safety Orders)

Marine Terminal Operations (Cal-OSHA General Industry Safety Orders)

Commercial Harbor Craft (Air Resources Board)

Recreational Marine Engines (Air Resources Board)

Marine Vessel Registration (DOT)

A Boater’s Guide (US Coast Guard)

OSHA Instruction (CPL 02-02-047 – Discusses the delineation of regulatory authority between OSHA and the Coast Guard)