2020 has presented its unique set of challenges with the coronavirus, and these challenges are set to extend into the summer. It is an uncertain time, and many municipalities are unsure how to proceed in many areas. In this article, we are going to be outlining the guidelines as they apply to handling boat launching at various marinas and public spaces. 

This article will examine how the boat launch process should be handled and organized – as set out in the Guidance on Health and Safety for Marinas During COVID-19. Employers and constructors have obligations to protect workers from hazards in the workplace as set out in the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSHA), and this document covers how these obligations extend to boat launches and public areas. 

Best Practices 

Above all, it is important that any municipality follows best practices as they apply to keeping any workplace as safe as possible from COVID-19. This includes enforcing physical distancing, proper hand-washing, cleaning and sanitizing surfaces, and preventing contact with potentially infected people. 

Therefore, any boat launch procedure should be done in the context of the consideration of these practices overall. Whatever unique needs each marina has should be taken under consideration when deciding how to organize each boat launch effectively. 

Recognize and Assess

Additionally, each municipality should have the ability to recognize and identify the signs and symptoms of COVID-19, as well as how employees can minimize contact with potential risk factors. 

Overall, a proper plan for combating the spread of COVID-19 at each municipality should be based on an understanding of best practices, which include recognizing the signs, symptoms, and risk factors. Municipalities must ensure that employees are knowledgeable and complicit with any regulations, and that they all work together to minimize risk. 

Next, we will examine some specific recommendations as they apply to organizing boat launches safely. 

Recommendations for Controls

In this section, we will outline recommendations from the Guidelines as they apply to the boat launch procedure. 

  • Establish a process that allows customers to book a launch date and time online where possible. Allow ample time between launches, to minimize contact between customers. Allow this reservation system to extend to tentative return arrival times. 
  • At public boat launches, place signage and instructions which enforce physical distancing and explain the boat launch process. Have a coordinated effort with police or municipal employees to enforce this where possible. 
  • Determine which type of water craft is being permitted to use the launching area, and restrict others. 
  • Loading of the watercraft should only be performed by the crew of that watercraft, and not with assistance from a public employee or municipality worker. Signage should be posted which indicates that only individuals loading or unloading their vessel should be around the launch area. An employee can monitor this process from a distance where possible. 
  • Establish a clear visual outline of where the launch dock area is located. Employees can offer assistance and instructions, so long as physical distancing guidelines are followed. 
  • Customers waiting to use the launch area should do so inside their vehicles, and should be prohibited from entering the launch area while it is in use. 
  • Consider minimizing risks of payment by having customers pre-pay by debit, credit, or e-transfer at paid boat launches. 

These restrictions were made in correspondence with the Best Practices outlined above. Each workplace is different, and each boat launch within a municipality should be applying these best practices to their individual launches, in context of the recommendations above. 

Each boat launch should be organized in a manner that adheres as closely to the above recommendations as possible. 
Remember, these guidelines for workplaces are ever-changing as the situation adapts. Be sure to continue checking the Ontario guidelines for updated information and recommendations.