We are not addressing work stoppage, strikes or just plain no-show incidents. We are addressing when a worker who executes their job on or near water suddenly disappears. Potentially into the water!
Any company that has employees working on or near water grapples with the concern of a Fall Overboard or MOB incident. It’s in the back of their safety-conscious mind every day. Does it keep them up at night? Hopefully not. The truth is most companies that work on or near water have a plethora of safety issues to deal with. In Emerald Marine Products’ experience, a MOB is one of those “put it on the back shelf” concerns. Statistically, it’s not a top safety concern but the implications of an MOB are far greater than a fall, collision, or medical issue.
A non-fatal MOB will most certainly cause a work stoppage, a potential medical issue and possibly a lawsuit. A fatal Mob will most certainly cause a work stoppage, an investigation by law enforcement, a potential medical issue and most certainly a lack of confidence from the employees and a lawsuit. The financial cost of a non-fatal or fatal MOB can be drastic. “That’s what we have insurance for” is not a defense for not having awareness of MOB issues and address the concern. Insurance may take care of some financial aspects of an MOB incident, but damage to the employees’ confidence, the company’s reputation and the soul retching guilt of the incident can be caustic to the companies future. On the last point alone, we have heard of a non-fatal MOB cause a suicide because the person in charge of the person who fell in the water (but survived) felt so guilty they didn’t better protect them.
You know MOB awareness, protection and rescue needs to be addressed, but where do you begin? As with any procedural change in an organization, change begins with education. Educate yourself and all stakeholders on what a MOB situation is. How vulnerable are your employees to such an incident? If your employees work on or near water, of course, the potential is there. But is the potential of a MOB increased due to; long work shifts, employees out-of-sight from other employees, weather extremes, inexperience, etc? As the potential grows, the implementation of a MOB plan is essential. What’s next?
You are determined to put an operational procedure in place to train your employees on both the hazards of an MOB and most important a response to a MOB. Emerald Marine Products has been manufacturing MOB alerting products for over twenty years. It is with our partnership with C-Hero, manufacture of MOB retrieval products, that our ability to offer companies a complete solution in awareness and retrieval of MOB incidents is complete. Emerald Marine Products and C-Hero have taken the mystery out of MOB awareness, operational execution and continued compliance.
First, begin with awareness. Outfitting any employee working on or near the water with proper protection such as Personal Floating Device (PFD), head, hand, footgear, VHF radio, personal light beacon, and our ALERT Man-Overboard Transmitter. Train your employees of root causes of potential fall situations (tripping on lines, fatigue, misplace objects). All employees working on or near water should be tested in MOB procedures regularly.
Actual MOB procedures can be easily found and adopted by your company if not already implemented. However, in our research, we have found most implementation is lax and irregular. Demand that all supervisors adhere to strict execution on both the exercise and frequency of the MOB test. Outfitting your company with a life-like victim such as our OSCAR – Water Rescue Training Dummy will provide years of easily maneuvered MOB testing procedures. An MOB drill should not use anything less than a full-grown adult victim in both size and weight. Using any training device not the size and weight of an adult is an affront to both your commitment to properly trained employees and the true readiness in the event an actual MOB occurs.
Realistically, what is the ability of your employees to provide a MOB retrieval in a timely manner? If your operation is shore-side and the water has a fast-moving current, how quickly will the person in the water be out of sight? Out of range of a local retrieval? This is a concern that needs to be addressed quickly. If the retrieval will come from another source, do employees in the rescue process know who to contact? Test it! If a local retrieval is possible (such as the boat the person just fell off of), is the rescuer’s ability to properly navigate the rescue boat and able to get the MOB out of the water in a timely fashion? Again, test it!
C-Hero makes several retrieval products to fit your company’s needs and budget. But in all safety procedures, the budget should not drive the solution. If your operation requires a device to lift a person out of the water, and no device exists on your boat, you need to budget for a lift. If all you need to get the MOB to the area where they can be safely lifted out of the water, then explore what type of retrieval product(s) will work best for the physical abilities of your employee. It is the repeated testing of a MOB drill that you will discover or confirm that your process is effective. If testing is frequent and consistent, you will see the level of confidence grow in your employees. Empowering them to be aware of a fall overboard concern will increase their vigilance of fellow employees’ whereabouts. Increasing the safety net within your company’s safety culture.
What about a safety culture once set and then management changes break down the compliance? C-hero has built a robust training and compliance application that is easy to administer. It allows for a step-by-step approach in MOB retrieval training. Once trained, the employee is video recorded in their participation in the training procedure. The video is then reviewed by management and given an approval rating. Annual compliance of each employee can be easily administered. The process can become the “heavy hand” that further institutes compliance within your company.
If Deckhands and Shore-Side Workers going missing is a concern of yours. If the responsibility of your employee’s well-being is a concern of yours, there are products and plans available to easily implement into your safety culture. Contact Emerald Marine Products to discuss your needs when addressing the issue of your employees working on or near water. Addressing your concerns now; before an unexpected event brings a costly accident to your attention.