Captain found guilty of overworking crew and fined $6000 should get more – Maritime safety experts

Recently, Maritime authorities in New Zealand brought charges against the captain of a Panama-flagged bulk carrier for allowing his crew to work at height without the use of proper safety equipment. The captain was found guilty and fined $6000. Maritime safety experts believe that the incidence is widespread and that there should be stiffer penalties for breach of Health & Safety legislation.

Ivan Osypenko, QHSE manager and safety trainings of Lerus Group, which operates the offshore training centre in Odessa, Ukraine to improve required skills of marine personnel without real danger, loss and damage to vessels and offshore installations, spoke with on maritime safety.


What is the place of safety in maritime?

Ok, there are three main reasons to follow a strict Health and Safety culture:

  1. Legal – because this is required by law
  2. Moral – workers are expected to return home safe and intact
  3. Financial – dealing with accident costs more than preventing it. So that, imposing minimum (average) penalties on the responsible person (comparing to their income) has more overall behavioural effect rather than “destroying” person (or organization) with the sum losses that the cannot bear. Such penalties have more “behavioural” effect rather than “profit” effect for economics of State where they imposed. Safety reduces the risk of injuries to personnel and minimizes the risk of damage to the environment. It minimizes the ever increasing cost of being off-hire; and personnel competently trained in maritime safety procedures will improve the efficiency and economy of offshore operations.

Unfortunately, some people believe that learning by first-hand experience on board an offshore vessel or installation is the only way seafarer can get education on safety, but that opinion is now unacceptable due to the increasing cost of mistakes and the toll on the environment.


Are you saying that some seafarers and off-shore workers don’t believe that training in safety procedures have economic benefits?

The offshore oil & gas industry is a dynamic, fast growing and a globally developing industry. There are wide range safety and emergency training requirements for employees in the offshore oil & gas industry. It is necessary to have a skilled workforce able to respond and to act responsibly during emergencies and incidents, regardless of current location.

But truly, seafarers need first-hand experience on board a vessel to understand the physical nature of the trade. Today, simulation is the solution. Using today’s simulation solutions from KONGSBERG MARINE, seafarers are exposed to enhanced safety and a thorough understanding of the theory and practice of seafaring. At Lerus group for example, we provide realistic offshore training solutions in a safe and controlled environment for all students. Our experienced instructors ensure that delegates receive personal attention and receive all the training necessary to impart reassurance and confidence should they be involved in future potential emergencies.

The main goal for imparting safety procedures is to improve the competence level of marine personnel and ensure they are able to perform duties and complete operations safely in the offshore oil & gas industry.


Why do some safety experts think that sanctions for maritime best practices on safety on vessels should be stiffer?

Penalties for breach of Health & Safety legislation may vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction (State, government or authorities where violation happened). For instance, in Singapore Workplace Safety and Health Act impose following penalties for non-compliance consequences:

If violation caused no human injuries or fatalities, penalties imposed I believe can be reviewed on case-to-case basis by the enforcement law agencies.

The Law prescribes maximum fine value, but no minimum. Therefore, the final decision is on Law Enforcement officer.


Do you also have dealings with the Nigeria Maritime industry? If so, how strong is this Health and Safety culture observed in the Industry? Many have complained about government agencies looking the other way instead of enforcing best practices. What is your take on this?

I had pleasure to have connections with Nigeria seafarers and industry personnel as well, haven worked with them in other World regions. The conclusions I’ve made to myself are the following: no matter what the beginning level of specialist and his Health and Safety awareness (even if it lack of it), but with the systematic, respectful and professional approach there is all chances to develop highest Health and Safety culture among personnel in workgroup.

People whom I met there, have overall, very high potential and strive of commitment to Health and Safety, especially when they observe that everybody at the workplace are treated equally and with the exactly same approach, no matter of positions, age, gender or nationality.

I have not dealt with the local authorities that much, but concerning people on board, I have never met any difficulties or challenges, where they tried to take “shortcut” by providing any kind of benefits to me or my team.

I believe that people want to work and leave as per law, in peace and wealth and there is our duty to provide them with such labour conditions.

Safety issues as simple permit to work based on working at height safety procedures are well known nowadays. There are couple main subjects to look at:

1) Common safety standards in maritime industry

2) Insurance matter and as a fact financial issue.

To increase minimum safety standards there are common practices to include working at heights safety course to cadets or fresh graduates worldwide.

Hence Lerus as a responsible and reputable training academy gives safety courses to Cadets of National Maritime Academy just before they step on board.

Same plan Lerus included in Seatime Training Program for Nigerian Youth graduate Maritime College in Cebu, Philippines- on board our Training vessels.

They will have right Safety related training, especially working at heights- since we want all of them always return home not injured after each shift in their life.


Are you currently training Nigerian Maritime Graduates?






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