Page 19: of Marine News Magazine (July 2015)

Propulsion Technology

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Safety and the Law Collide on the Water

Making sure that your Safety Bonus Program provides the right incentives can make all the difference.

By Larry DeMarcay

We all can agree that the safety of purposes of making operations safer, it is also important our employees is critical; if not the that employees receive proper medical attention quickly, most important concern of each of our before their injuries become worse due to continuing to companies. Our marine-based employ- work aboard the vessel.

ees face day-to-day perils that are not Although it may not make sense, employees may decide encountered by the average American not to report their accidents in an effort to preserve the of? ce worker. It is our duty to do every- safety bonus record. No one wants to be the employee who thing that we can to ensure that each of took his focus off the job and suffered an injury, much our employees returns safely to his or less the employee who costs the entire crew a safety award. her family once their hitch is over. Our industry has made Based upon this incentive, employees may not be moti- great strides in improving safety over the years by utilizing vated to timely report injuries. improved training programs, safety policies and safety pro- This is exactly the type of behavior that the safety pro- grams. All of these initiatives combine to create a maritime gram does not want to encourage. Thus, any safety bonus/ culture that embraces safety, and one that is unquestion- incentive program must take into account incident report- ably better today than it was just a few decades past. ing as a required component and should provide some

Many safety programs utilize a safety bonus/incentive leeway where a minor reportable incident or illness may system to reward employees who operate in a safe manner. not cause the crew to lose a bonus. Thus, encouraging the

Although each plan is slightly different, virtually all plans reporting of incidents, illnesses or near misses for all events provide some sort of bonus to the members of a vessel crew can create a culture of reporting that will make incident when a certain period of time elapses without a reportable reporting second nature and not something that can be lost time accident. Incentivizing safety is a great idea: it goes balanced against the desire to receive a bonus.

a long way towards keeping the crew members focused on Employee intimidation is a potential problem when safety, moves safety away from being purely an individual other employees could persuade an injured crew member concern and passes responsibility to the entire crew. No one from reporting the incident. Unfortunately, it is possible can disagree with the aspirations of such a program. that other crew members will remind the injured crew member that reporting the incident will cost all of them

S C the bonus. Essentially, they could try to shame the injured


Although safety bonus/incentive programs go a long way employee from reporting the incident to management. to motivate employees to operate in a safe manner, there This pressure can keep employees from timely report- are several concerns you should consider while designing ing incidents and receiving appropriate medical care. Ad- or modifying such a program. These concerns include the ditionally, lack of timely reporting also prevents the com- potential for incentivizing the repression of incident re- pany from conducting a proper investigation to determine porting, the potential that employees could intimidate an what occurred. Again, any safety bonus program should injured employee from reporting an accident, or having attempt to minimize this pressure.

the crew misclassify potential accidents in the hope of pre- Another area of potential abuse is the improper classi- serving safety bonuses. ? cation of incidents. It is possible that an employee may

You do not want to discourage employees from report- suffer an injury while working aboard the vessel and report ing an incident or give them any discretion in determining that he sustained an injury that was not “work related” whether or not to report an incident. It is very important when in fact the accident certainly was. The employee will that crew members timely report all injuries, illnesses, in- allege that this non-work related injury manifested itself cidents, and near misses to their supervisors. Not only does while he was in the service of the ship and request mainte- this allow management to properly monitor risks for the nance and cure. At the same time, the vessel’s safety record 19 MN

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