Should the old, obese & females be given easier pre-employment physicals?

I seen this interesting topic being discussed in a derailed manner on a train wreck thread that will likely be shut down. So I thought it better to just open a new thread. Should the old, obese & females be given easier pre-employment physicals? I say no. I remember seeing a lot of accident reports from out of shape bridge team members/cooks doing the simple task of loading groceries. I’ve seen plenty of people who had a hard time or couldn’t bring their own luggage aboard. I’ve seen out of shape people get hurt or complain about carrying their abandon ship equipment on stairs. I’ve seen a few near death scenarios on tugs being required to stay on the hip while berthed during crewchange. If you can’t carry your own bags, immersion suit, groceries or want your crew to delay crewchange because you can’t manage a ladder/pigeon holes I don’t want to sail with you. Too much trouble & too much work for the rest of the crew. One physical for everyone IMO.


NO special treatment, here you / we are all equally worthless.


In an industry that counts one of the job titles as Able Bodied Seaman, it would make sense that the persons who have that title would be able bodied.

The big factor to me in physical fitness onboard is firefighting. I once had a Chief Mate trying to order extraordinarily large turnout gear and I pulled him aside and reminded him that the reason they don’t make gear for person’s of that carriage is that it would be dangerous to send them into a fire. Fire departments have fitness requirements and so should we.

I don’t find any of the physicals I have had to take over my career to be unduly rigorous or improper. I would personally prefer that everyone coming up that gangway were as fit as possible or at least having any chronic medical issues well managed and under control. It is just common sense.


Most important is the ability to function effectively in an emergency. Handicapped or obese folks are liabilities when the poop hits the fan.


I had to take a physical with a now defunct tug/barge/atb company that went through a medical company called Kelly Andersen. The first physical required being strapped into a machine, spread eagle like a Michaelangelo drawing. It was literally a pain but I only had to do it once. The annual physicals after that was easy to moderate. I loved the free indepth annual blood tests.

Personally I think there should be a retirement age for mariners. 60 or 65 seems reasonable. The health risks are greater and the physical abilities are less when people reach their 60s. Of course their are exceptions but for a majority this is true. Some will say their experience is invaluable but also someone in their 50s will have many years of experience and be just as knowledgeable. I’ve worked with crew in their 70s and it’s just not fun. It’s cruel but they don’t pull their own weight and are a liability.


Anderson Kelly.

And having done well over a dozen physicals with them, I’ve never heard of that!

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Absolutely agree that one standard is the way to go. In an emergency anyone on the crew could be called on for any role and it’s critical that all personnel are physically up to that task.


Anderson Kelly has contracts with scores of different companies in different types of industries. I’m pretty sure they’ll do whatever their clients ask. For me it was old KSea Transportation.

Where would you find the young, strong, agile, slender, and otherwise healthy crew with the proper credentials?

Have you heard about state and federal sex, age, handicap discrimination laws, that require “reasonable accommodations”?

I recall a really exceptional tugboat Captain with only one leg. He’s retired in his 70’s and he’s in his 90s now.

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I recently heard an older healthy coworker of mine joking about getting one of these for the ship.


Cheap ones cost under $3k.


I’ve been hit by the USCG for not having gear big enough for the fire crew and we struggled trying to find a company that made gear big enough.

I’m far from certain, but aren’t ships exempted from ADA requirements?

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I doubt it. Even if exempt from ADA, that does not necessarily mean that many vessels (inland and harbor tugs) would be exempt from state or even city ADAs.

The fact is: we have a tremendous number guys in their 60s and many in their 70s working on tugs.

Right now, guys are being brought back out of retirement because there are not enough younger guys available.

I rarely hear of anyone flunking the USCG physical.

I often hear of people flunking big company or bayou boat company physicals.

New constructions that are wheelchair accessible, ramps to every level with watertight doors with special handles. Thats all the Jones Act & US Shipping needs. No more bigs steps going through hatch ways. Hooray!

Signs in English, Spanish, Vietnamese Farsi, and braille.


The keywords are “reasonable accommodations.”

Yes ADA doesn’t preclude an employer from discriminating against all disabilities for any type of job. Imagine for instance a firefighter applicant who had severe asthma of course he’s probably going to be found unfit for employment as a FF. I’ve even experienced employers of commercial drivers subject employees to an annual physical fitness test, they had us drag a 50lb weight a certain distance or something like that.

Edit: Found it, granted I’m sure plenty of places pencil whip it if they’re desperate enough, but my employer at the time was pretty strict about going through all this.

Are you talking about an ekg? I get them all the time from pre employment at AK and the union yearly physical.

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A friend of a friend says that’s exactly what the aliens did before poking him with sharp objects. I’d be careful going out after dark if I were you.

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