United States
Department of Labor

Search form


Hazard Alert: Best Practices for Working Near Water

water related fatalities and safety information

Hazard Alert: Best Practices for Working Near Water

There have been 24 water related fatalities in Metal and Nonmetal since 2005.

The hazardous outcomes of working near water are clear – entrapment and drowning. 

There are a number of risk factors that are intensified when water is involved:

  • Equipment weight and vibration
  • Undercut banks
  • Sloughing ground
  • Varied water depth
  • Swift currents
  • Inadequate berms
  • Narrow roadways
  • Electrocution

Follow Best Practices to Prevent Accidents

  • Conduct daily workplace examinations.
  • Know the water depth and subsurface conditions and ground conditions before you begin work.
  • Keep equipment a safe distance back from the water’s edge.
  • Avoid traveling over ice covered water.
  • Provide handrails around docks and work boats.
  • Properly berm roadways near water hazards.
  • Always wear a Coast Guard approved Type I or Type V personal flotation device (PFD) when working around water, even when inside mobile equipment. Auto-inflatable, if possible.
  • Keep water rescue equipment easily accessible.
  • Know where extra PFDs and rescue rings are stowed.
  • Practice good housekeeping and keep all travel ways clear around water hazards.

Download this Alert

Hazard Alert – Water Related Safety  (in Spanish)