Employees working over or near water shall be provided with a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket or buoyant work vest when the danger of drowning exists.
If the deck of a barge or work platform is not equipped with an OSHA-compliant railing system, employees walking or working on deck must wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket or buoyant work vest, also called a life preserver or personal flotation device (PFD). These PFDs should be fully buckled, snapped, or zipped whenever there is a hazard of falling into the water, regardless of the size of the barge. While a PFD is not required to be worn while an employee is inside an enclosed cab or equipment compartment on a barge, each employee should have a PFD accessible to them at all times. This safety precaution will allow employees the opportunity to don a PFD in a reasonable amount of time during an emergency (i.e., vessel sinking, fire, etc.).