It’ll come as no surprise that a fair chunk of injuries that lead to claims involve new and inexperienced crew. It stands to reason why they will be more likely to be involved in an incident; it takes time to become familiar with all the dangers that are present in a tough working environment.
It is of course impossible to teach a new crew member everything before taking up duties. This learning takes time and relies on the teaching and guidance from the more experienced crew. The first things the experienced crew should pass on are the basics of staying safe when working on deck and making sure the new joiner is a help, not a hindrance in an emergency.
In an industry where so much of the learning process is on-the-job, what can owners and skippers do about this?
Is there anything you can give to new joiners to read before they actually join the vessel? This might include your policies on health and safety or drugs and alcohol. Or perhaps some simple ‘dos and don’ts’ that reflect what standards and behaviour you expect on your boat?
A crew member’s first day is very important for safety learning. It’s easy to overwhelm someone new, so think about what the essentials are and what can wait a little. For example, before sailing make sure the new crew member knows his emergency duties: how to raise the fire alarm, the location and use of life saving appliances etc. Before taking up work duties, does the crewmember understand which PPE to use and when to wear it?
Having the more experienced crew talk the new member through the risk assessments for the jobs he will be doing could be helpful. They should explain what to expect, what can go wrong and how he can protect himself. An inexperienced crew member might not know he mustn’t stand near the net when its moving, or to stand in a bight.
Also, does your vessel introduce unique or less obvious risks that an inexperienced fisherman might not immediately recognise, such as ammonia refrigeration equipment?
This does require the help from the rest of the crew. New joiners will rely on the wisdom of the old hands to show them these basic tasks. Time is of course tight, and people are busy, but teaching someone to stay safe is time well spent.
It’s very easy to fall into the trap of treating emergency drills as a tick-box exercise, but these can be very effective ways for new crew to learn about simple acts that could save people’s lives, such as firefighting, rescuing a MOB and launching liferafts.
Get new crew members involved and let them get hands-on experience of using emergency equipment. Familiarity breeds confidence and this could make the difference if emergency action is ever needed.
We have some simple safety training material on our website that is free to download.
Read more here.
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