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Operational Excellence through Leadership and Compliance

Maritime Compliance Report

Welcome. Staying in compliance takes dedication, diligence and strong leadership skills to stay on top of all the requirements which seem to keep coming at a rapid pace. With this blog I hope to provide visitors with content that will help them in their daily work of staying in compliance. I hope you find it a resource worthy of your time and I look forward to your feedback, questions, comments and concerns. Thanks for stopping by. To avoid missing critical updates, don’t forget to sign up for email alerts by using the Subscribe to blog link above.

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It seems that whenever a new rule making is in progress an entire new industry evolves. This was the case with Oil Pollution Act (OPA) of 90, as well as the Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA) of 2002. But both may pale in comparison to the economic opportunity provided by Subchapter M, which may be seen as a potential gold mine for some professional services companies and maritime entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, for towing vessel operators, the amount of information being levied upon them may add to their confusion and stress when trying to make the best decisions for their companies. 

 

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It’s Mardi Gras time once again in New Orleans. If you have been to New Orleans’ Mardi Gras parades you know that the edges of the curbs along the parade route are lined with ladders. These ladders are no ordinary ladders. They have three foot long bench seats attached to the very top where we precariously place our precious babies. It’s enough to give an OSHA inspector a heart attack. How could this be legal?  On very rare occasion a cop will tell people they need to move their ladders back away from the curb. Of course, the parents respond that they do this every year and it has never been a problem before. They are reluctant to move because they will lose their spot and someone else will quickly place their ladder on the edge of the same curb. It is highly unlikely that another cop will come along and tell them to move. This causes a little deja vu for me. As a Coast Guard inspector, I was that cop. I always enforced the regulations accurately and consistently. I encountered much of the same arguments and resistance. One inspector training me had told me that the regulations were written in blood. That is, some catastrophe had happened that caused the regulations to be written.  I took that to heart. Even though I didn’t know what the catastrophe was for each regulation, I enforced them all. After all, that’s what the tax payers were paying me to do. Maybe those few New Orleans cops that occasionally tell confused parents to move their ladders back from the curb remember the story of Christian Lambert. According to a recent article in local Gambit newspaper, it turns out that putting our ladders on the curb is not legal. In 1985 the New Orleans City Council passed an ordinance which requires all ladders to be “placed as many feet back from the curb as the ladder is high.” That’s because of a tragedy that occurred in 1981 at the Krewe of Orleanians parade. Christian was an eight year old boy who was launched from his ladder and was crushed under float number 48 when the crowd surged forward. Accurate and consistent enforcement is a critical component to ensuring compliance. Understanding the origin and intent of regulations is an essential motivator.
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Compliance is something that many only think of when forced to. At the Workboat Show many representatives from good companies pass by our booth and say hello, but when asked if they have any compliance questions or issues we can help with, the response is usually, “No thanks we’ve got all that under control.” Perhaps they do, but chances are their issues just haven’t risen to the surface yet. Many good companies pass inspections and audits and assume that they are in full compliance. They may be, or they may find out at the next inspection, audit or accident that they were not as compliant as they had assumed. But an excellent company has a proactive compliance management program as part of their regular routine and does not rely upon inspectors’ and auditors’ interpretations and opinions to determine their level of compliance.

 

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We are proud to announce a strategic partnership with Boatracs to provide an electronic Subchapter M compliance product. Please click here to read the full article: Maritime Executive.
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As I read the indictment of two BP officials, Robert Kaluza and Donald Vidrine, on 11 counts of seaman’s manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter, I couldn't help but think about Subchapter M and the future of the towing vessel industry. Mr. Vidrine and Kaluza were Well Sight Leaders on the Deepwater Horizon rig the day of the explosion which resulted in the deaths of 11 people. According to the indictment, these Well Sight Leaders were responsible for, among other things, “supervising the implementation of BP’s drilling plan.” To draw an analogy, under Subchapter M, should a company operate under a Towing Safety Management System (TSMS), the captain will be responsible for “supervising the implementation of the company TSMS.”

 

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The International WorkBoat Show in New Orleans is fast approaching. It is being held in the New Orleans Convention Center from December 5-7. If you are interested in learning the latest about regulations and compliance and you are planning on investing in the conference sessions, I’d like to bring two sessions to your attention:


Wednesday December 5, 2012 from 4:00 – 5:30pm I will be participating in a conference session moderated by retired RADM Whitehead on: “Choosing a Compliance Option for Towing Vessel Regulations: What You Need to Know.”


Friday December 7, 2012 from 1:00 – 2:00pm I will be conducting an hour-long session: “Culture of Compliance” where I will go in depth on my comprehensive model for maritime compliance management. 


If you have specific questions, please come by our booth: 2757 and visit with us. We look forward to seeing you all there!

 

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On a recent visit to Greece I was invited to speak at the Safety4Sea conference in Athens to an audience of almost 400 attendees. I took the opportunity to introduce my Maritime Compliance Management Model. Click on the picture to watch the short video:

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If a company hired a new captain for a new vessel, and shortly thereafter that captain was asked what challenges he faces on his new vessel, what do you think he might say? I can’t imagine him saying that the biggest hurdle he faced was that there was not enough established doctrine or written procedures for him to follow! Perhaps if International Safety Management (ISM) systems had been implemented as intended, to minimize human error by following written procedures that represent best practices, he might have said such a thing. But that culture, to my knowledge, has not been established on the civilian side of seafaring. While working with companies to implement ISM and other safety management programs, I often use the example of serving on a number of Coast Guard cutters, where there was a right way to do everything, and it was written down in manuals. There were almost no checklists used either, because everything had to be learned, practiced, memorized and drilled. From this perspective, I believe a real safety culture is one where the word “safety” is never mentioned. I can’t remember ever hearing it on any Coast Guard cutter: there was only the right way to do things. In watching Dale DuPont’s interview with LCDR Craig Allen, Commanding Officer of the USCGC William Flores, on Workboat.com recently, I was pleased to see that some things never change. Listen to what the Captain says when asked what challenges he faces on his new vessel… (Video interview) That’s right; he says that their biggest hurdle is that there is not enough established doctrine or procedures to follow. He explains they will have to make them from scratch based upon lessons learned and best practices. This is an example of what the Coast Guard’s “safety culture” looks like. The operational Coast Guard is not an excellent organization by accident. How excellent is your operation?

 

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Time flies. It’s hard to believe that many TWICs are reaching their expiration date. Thankfully, there is an alternative process to renew a TWIC for those whose cards are now expiring. As long as you are a U.S. citizen or U.S. national and your TWIC is expiring before December 31, 2014, all you have to do is call 1-866-347-8942 and pay $60, to order a new TWIC which will be good for another three years.  A client recently did this over the phone with all their employees and found it to be a very simple process. Of course, once the TWIC is ready, it will require a trip to a TWIC center to pick it up and activate it.

 

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For those of you in New Orleans, I want to let you know that our Safety Management Workbooks are now available at Baker Lyman in addition to our website.  It is a great resource to get crews to learn what is in, as well as how to use, your own safety management system. The next time you are in Baker Lyman, please look for it. 

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There are still a significant number of towing vessel that have not been examined under the Coast Guard’s Bridging Program. As the Coast Guard trains more examiners and becomes more proficient in conducting uninspected towing vessel (UTV) exams, the bar for operators is steadily rising. In their continuing effort to help the industry demonstrate full compliance the Coast Guard has published a new edition of “United States Coast Guard Requirements for Uninspected Towing Vessels.” This is the best comprehensive reference for a particular class of vessel that has ever been published by the Coast Guard. In addition to the excellent explanation of the regulations, there are useful appendixes which include frequently asked questions, and a collection of those ever-elusive Policy Letters which contain a wealth of information. Whether your company is still struggling to get their vessels examined, or you consider yourself an expert on the topic, this publication deserves a serious look. There is something for even the most experienced among us to learn.

 

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After many years of being involved with compliance issues for the maritime industry, I have developed a comprehensive model on how to manage compliance. If you would like to learn about this methodology which will help you develop confidence and peace of mind regarding compliance, you should make it a point to try to attend one of these conference sessions where I will be presenting the model:


Wednesday October 3, 2012 – Athens, Greece; Safety4Sea Forum; 2:00pm – 3:30pm “Culture of Compliance”


Friday December 7, 2012 – New Orleans, LA; International Workboat Show; 1:00pm – 2:00pm; “Culture of Compliance”


Additionally, if you are in the towboat business, there will be an important panel discussion at the Workboat Show, on whether to choose the Coast Guard option or third party TSMS option for inspection compliance under Subchapter M:


Wednesday December, 5, 2012 – International Workboat Show; New Orleans, LA; 4:00pm -5:30pm; “Choosing a Compliance Option for Towing Vessel Regulations: What You Need to Know”


I will be on this panel which will be moderated by retired RADM Joel Whitehead.


Also, when at the Workboat Show, please stop by our booth 2757 and say hello.


I look forward to seeing you.

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When I was training to become a Coast Guard marine inspector years ago, I noticed the doorway on a crewboat was 28 inches wide. When I looked up the regulation, I found that the door for a passenger compartment is required to be 32 inches wide. The other inspector breaking me in was reluctant to make the owner enlarge the doorway.  All I could imagine was some very large passengers getting stuck in the capsized boat that we had certified.

 

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Did you know that vessel owners are required to manage rain run-off? That crewmembers are required to screen their shore-side bosses if they come aboard a vessel? That push-boats are required to have a bell of a certain size in case they anchor or run aground in the fog? This is only the tip of the regulatory iceberg. Some regulations seem so ridiculous that vessel owners have a hard time believing that they could be true, or that they will ever be enforced, or that someone won’t come to their senses and make them go away. A common strategy used once a vessel owner becomes aware of a regulation is to call around to some friendly competitors to see what they are doing. They may end up convincing each other to adopt a “wait and see” approach. After all, the Coast Guard always gives 30 days to correct a deficiency, right? Some companies call the Coast Guard to ask about a particular issue, and because the Coast Guard person who answers the phone isn’t familiar with the particular requirement, the company may say, “The Coast Guard doesn’t even know about this,” and use that as an excuse to do little or nothing to comply. This is not good.

 

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I got a ticket within the past year for “running a red light.” I never saw the light turn red as I drove through the yellow light traveling under the speed limit. However, the officer issuing me the ticket explained that if any portion of my vehicle remained in the intersection when the light turned red, then that constituted running a red light. I paid the ticket and then did a little research. I now know the legal definition of running a red light in my town. But, why didn’t I research that before? Because, I have a general knowledge of traffic rules, I don’t have a history of violations, and if I ever get a ticket, I’ll just pay it and move on. It’s all a matter of risk assessment. What is the risk to my peace of mind and my wallet? The answer is: minimal. There is no reason to proactively manage my compliance with traffic laws. However, when it comes to running my business, the risk is much greater and therefore, I make sure that I am compliant with whatever applicable laws and regulations I become aware of.

 

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