Standard deckhand duties include making tow, transferring rigging, laying rigging, handling lines, dropping or picking up barges, checking the tow, moving and operating portable pumps, assisting in making locks or bridges, assisting in mid-stream transfers, routine housekeeping duties, and general maintenance. In addition, deckhands may be required to catch a line on deck fittings; work lines at locks, cast lines free when getting underway, and assist in the navigation of the boat ( not from the wheelhouse). Specific duties may be posted aboard the vessel. These duties will be performed all types of weather, night and day, and while the vessel is underway.
- Deckhands are required to launch (with help), use, and ride a skiff from time. They may be required to mount the outboard motor, participate in emergency evacuations, and recover the skiff when small boat operations have been complete, and perform his emergency duties without endangering himself or others. These procedures require a deckhand to work on a moving platform where an individual's balance may be critical.
- Deckhands are required to use hand tools, power tools, painting equipment, and personal protective gear. Power tools may be heavy or awkward and generate dust or loud noise.
- Deckhands are frequently required to move equipment that is heavy or awkward sometimes from one level to another. To qualify for employment, deckhands are required to lift 50 pounds. Moving this equipment may require more than one person in order to move or lift the item safety. No deckhands should lift more than he can safely handle. It is the responsibility of the individual deckhand to request assistance from other members of the crew when he feels it is necessary.
- Deckhands must be able to communicate with wheelhouse personnel and other crewmembers. Communication may be made via VHF radio, orally, by sound signals or by hand signals. All deckhands must have hearing that allows them to communicate effectively in the conditions that might be encountered aboard a towboat.
- Deckhands must have vision that allows to safely maneuver aboard the vessel in situations that are likely to occur when a boat is in navigation night and day, year around. Their depth perception must be adequate for assisting the wheelhouse personnel in navigating in close quarters, including lock or bridge approaches.
- Deckhands must be capable of stooping, bending, ascending and descending stairs or ladders safely, sometimes while transporting tools or objects. Deckhands must consider the requirements of a particular job prior to undertaking the task so he can be assured that all necessary equipment or assistance is readily available. Deckhands must know how and when to use the emergency equipment located on the vessel.