Ports and Waterways Minister Paul McLeay today announced the start of the ‘Take Care – Be Prop Aware’ campaign to reduce boat propeller injuries.
Mr McLeay said NSW Maritime records showed five people had died and 46 had suffered injuries after being struck by a spinning propeller, an impact known as ‘prop strike’, in the past six years.
“These injuries can be devastating. The fact they are preventable makes awareness of this issue vital,” Mr McLeay said
“Propellers may be out of sight, and therefore out of mind, but the hazards are very real.”
“If you imagine coming into contact with a typical three-bladed propeller which spins at around 3200rpm and can make more than 160 impacts per second, you’ll understand the high risk of serious injury and even death for anyone in the water near moving powerboats.
“A fast spinning boat propeller blade can travel from head to toe in an average person in less than one tenth of a second, causing multiple deep wounds. Boat propeller injuries, if not fatal, are usually severe and disfiguring, resulting in prolonged disability and permanent impairment.”
Mr McLeay said the area around the propeller should be considered a ‘hazard zone’ and skippers need to be particularly vigilant when involved in towing sports and driving powerboats near swimmers or sailing schools and surf clubs.
“People who fall overboard are particularly at risk, especially those boating alone who may be run over by their own boat if they are not wearing an engine kill-switch lanyard.
Mr McLeay said skippers can consider technology such as wireless engine cut-off switches, propeller guards and alternative propulsion systems.
The Take Care – Be Prop Aware campaign features a highly visible and distinctive black and yellow logo with a large black propeller. Packs containing T-shirts, stickers for boats and brochures will be sent to 600 boating, surf life saving and other clubs to support them in spreading the word.
At a glance, basic safety advice concerning propellers:
• Keep all arms and legs inside the boat – not over the bow or sides. Bow riding and ‘teak surfing’ (holding onto the stern of a boat that is underway) are illegal in NSW.
• Inspect the area near the back of the boat to ensure the area is all clear before starting the engine
• Turn the engine off near people in the water as some propellers may continue to spin, even in neutral.
• Keep a proper lookout at all times when underway, especially when near swimmers.
• Stay out of designated swimming areas.
• Observe ‘distance off’ rules and keep clear of people in the water, passive craft and other vessels.
• Brief any person driving the powerboat on the risks.
• Wear a kill-switch lanyard when boating alone. A kill-switch lanyard is attached to the arm and stops the engine when pulled out.
More boating safety tips can be found at Yacht and Boat safety section