How much does the Safety cost?

Safety is part of our life at sea, everyone on board have set of Policies, Standards, Procedures Check List, Stop Cards, Safety instruction year after year there is more of it and we all have to follow it because it is for our safety.
But what I have noticed that whenever all this Safety Rules are creating costs for companies they always find a way to move around it. Where I am working they have a tool called Exemption.
When following the Safety Rule is too expensive (hard cash or time) our managers are either doing Exemption accepted by shore Safety personnel or are forced to do Exemption that depend how much money is on the table and how critical safety rule have to be exempt.

In last few months I was trying to evaluate how much does the safety cost, how much is the company willing to spend extra to follow their own rules for which implementations they spend thousand of dollars.

My estimate is that when there is 20k$ on the table in some cases they will go for exemption and flush in toilet their own safety.

How does it look in your companies?

Safety All the Way!!!
As long as it does not cost money, or impairs operation.

As long as everybody wear hard hats, safety shoes, safety glass and write STOP Cards, what can possibly go wrong???

Life Saving Appliances, Fire Fighting Equipment, or anything else that is expensive is bases on “minimum required by rules”


The old saying “If you think safety is expensive, have an accident” applies in this case.

How much “hard cash” or time does it take to move beyond the costs of any accident?

How do you measure the “soft cost” of a lost life or one ruined forever?

Your post has the scent of the Cheeto’s dream of corporate invulnerability and the total lack of value of those who do not make substantial campaign contributions.

Safety is the most important thing where I work. Except if it slows down the job. Or if the coustomer wants the job done now. Or if the captain or chief mate are new and temporary in the job position. Or if someone died recently. Otherwise safety is of utmost importance!


Some companies have the policy of “do it right” but when a ship won’t sail on time or cargo won’t get off in time that saying turns into “do it right now”


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Paper, procedures, and rules don’t make people safe. They are part of the big picture, but too many clowns think the answer to safety issues is more paper.

The USCG is way behind OSHA in it’s safety regulation and rules. But, OSHA and all the other safety “procedures” are often so onerous that they create situations that are less safe.

I work in the GoM and the safety out here has gotten out of control.

It went from sensible stuff like wearing safety goggles while grinding, to insanity like having to wear full nomex suits with faceshields and plastic aprons while taking on diesel, and requiring a fireteam dressed out and ready to respond while fueling.

See the first one makes sense because the the chances of debris getting in your eye is high, the inconvenience of wearing the goggles is low, and even if it weren’t a rule anyone with half a brain would wear goggles anyway.

The second is totally insane because nowhere in the history of diesel fueling has a transfer spontaneously combusted into a fire. And even if this transfer magically did turn into a raging inferno what do you think that plastic faceshield and apron are going to do The odds of a fire are ridiculously low, the inconvenience of wearing all this crap is high, any nobody with half a brain would follow these rules if their job wasn’t at risk.

The problem is this cycle:

  1. Companies want to appear more safe to get better contracts and charge more for their safety ratings etc

  2. The company hires some desk jockey with a clipboard and names them “safety department” or something. They make them in charge of making this company more safe.

  3. This person quickly realizes that they need to justify their pathetic existence while appearing to actually improve safety.

  4. The newly created safety department starts going around and making up rules. “All stairs must be painted yellow!” As if on land the stairs are a mystery to you that you struggle with every day and frequently call the police when you encounter rogue stairways that aren’t painted yellow. “NO cell phones on watch!” As if this slimey piece of Sh*t doesn’t have their cell phone on them while they are chastising you for it. These are the sorts of rules they like to make. Ones that don’t matter or ones they would never follow themselves.

  5. They nitpick and terrorize everyone on the boats for even the slightest infractions of their insane rulebook and come out looking like saints to upper management that are finally exposing the true source of unsafe behaviors.

Time goes by

  1. Management is confused why their safety record isn’t improving over time.

  2. Safety department comes up with new strategy. They go around telling everyone that while it is absolutely imperative that they report every single bump or scrape they get, that we really really really want to reach “goal zero” and if we don’t we are going to lose contracts and who knows what will happen to your job then?.. know what I mean ? wink, wink.

  3. The employees basically having been told if they report any injury that they are damaging the company will probably lose thwir jobs decide to start hiding their cuts and scrapes and sprains and so forth. Not reporting anything.

  4. Safety record gets better due to nobody reporting anything since being blackmailed.

  5. Management loves it and decides to give the safety department an even bigger budget and more power next year.

It’s all a giant racket. It’s a huge scheme that doesn’t make anything any safer.


My favorite is the yellow stairs. I always wondered why we need yellow stairs on ships but they don’t need yellow stairs at the office.


Yet, worthwhile safety equipment like enclosed lifeboats are too expensive.


Over the years, I’ve probably seen more injuries and more near misses from the lack of adequate gangways than anything else.

At the end of the day safety is really about common sense, accountability, experience, and a good dose of being aware of the consequences of your actions. So true “safety” costs nothing. All the engineering and policy making, taking away people’s power to logic stuff out, create more problems then not and the cost is immeasurable.

Take the blue pill on this one!

What if the results last longer than 4 hours?

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Keep away from rotating machinery.


Some years ago Bruce Schneier coined the term “security theatre” to describe organizational actions that looked like they made things more secure but in fact did not, e.g., TSA relieving you of blade in your safety razor. What you describe could be called “safety theatre.” Security theatre at least has a minor benefit that it deters the stupid and reassures the nervous (Schneier’s example is the RFID tags placed on newborns to prevent abductions – abductions are exceedingly rare, but the tags make mothers feel better.) Safety theatre looks at first glance to be pure waste.




Bruce Schneier?

Yeah, dumb mistake (name of old friend). Fixed it, thanks.



I’ve spent some time thinking about how I might contribute to this thread, because let loose I would bore you all so I’ll restrict myself to a quote from an article by Dr Nippin Anand who works for DNV, “After more than two decades of futile attempts to implement a structured, systematic and documented approach in managing safety, it should be clear that it does not exist. The case discussed here was not chosen because it was unique or one-off. It only serves as a recent example available in the public domain to expose the fatal fallacy that we call safety management.” It is included as part of an article I wrote in 2016. If you fancy it it can be accessed here and is called “SAFETY MANAGEMENT - TICKING THE BOXES” :


That article by Anand is a good one, I was expecting not to like it. Light bulbs, red lines and rotten onions

I was very interested in the Hoegh Osaka incident. I joined a PCTC several years ago where the ballast gauges didn’t work. Getting the trouble-shooting and repair done took me two years of effort.

When the Osaka went over the port engineer sent me an article with a picture of the Osaka on the cover. About a month later we sent in the order for new transducers, they are several thousand dollars each and there are 14 ballast tanks. He cancelled our request and said why do you need them just sound the tanks. I sent him back the picture of the Osaka on it’s side. He approved the order.

This was before the report came out and I didn’t know the Osaka’s gauges didn’t work.


A company that I worked with decided that the office should have all of the same pretty “Safety is Up To You” Rubber backed rugs that they sent out to the fleet. Well, I had to call in and asked to speak with a PC. I was told he had to go home and the PE that I was speaking with was having a hard time trying not to laugh. When I asked what had happened, he said that the PC had tripped over one of the new “Safety” rugs causing him to fall and hurt his back.

In the early 90’s I spent a long time in NORSHIPCO yards and got to know a lot of the Ship Sups. He was telling me that the President of the company was coming down to give them an award for several years without a Lost Time Accident. So, here that all are standing in front of the sign having their picture taken holding said award. Now this is not something that would usually be funny except for the fact that two of them were on Crutches and another one had his arm in a sling. I was there when two of them got hurt (on company property) and drove one of them to the Hospital. What they did was, just use their Health Care Insurance rather than reporting it and using Worker Comp Insurance so they did not lose out of getting the ward. The picture was published in the Virginia Pilot.

Safety at my last company was used as a double edged sword. One one hand they wanted the crews to report each and every injury no matter how small. Then they would throw a fit whenever anyone when out Unfit.
The way these policies were written just about required anyone to go UN-Fit for even the smallest of injuries as most ER’s release you with orders to follow up with your personal Doctor, which to my Company made you Unfit!