How does a marine business owner or vessel operator establish a culture of safety? By being knowledgeable and fundamentally sound when it comes to safety. There is nothing cutting edge about establishing a culture of safety at your workplace. It takes communication, repetition and dedication. Sure, cost is part of the equation, but it’s not as much as you’d think.
Many boatyards and vessel owners believe that any time an insurance agent comes out for a visit it will cost them money. Though this might be true on occasion, I try to set up these kinds of meetings with a specific purpose and agenda. This keeps the focus on the client’s needs. As a client, you should also set a similar agenda. This helps push the money issue aside.
What could be on your agenda? Most vessel crews need safety training. Ask your insurer to send out their loss control expert to help set up a safety program and to bring sample safety manuals and station bills for posting on your vessel. Many insurance companies offer safety reminders that can easily be stapled to paychecks. This can help establish a culture of safety.
Have members of your crew help you with deck inspections to look at areas they know need work.
Sometimes, the solution is as simple as a couple of coats of paint. How do you keep the deck working area of a crane safe? It’s not easy, but I’ve found that simply painting the deck in that area a highly contrasting color and adding cautionary wording helps a lot. Pad eyes are another problem. A bold contrasting circle painted around them helps. Steps in the deck can also be highlighted by a contrasting stripe.
Ladderways are another specific problem. Crewmembers seem to want to go down ladderways facing forward, a dangerous situation. Signage that says “go down backwards” helps.
Safety reminders are simple and cost nothing. They get the point across that you, the employer or vessel owner, want to keep your employees safe. It’s also a morale builder since it sends the message that you care about them.