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

I don’t need a company physical to tell me anything.

I have a very thorough regular checkups that include an angiogram, echocardiogram, colonoscopy, blood work, urologist, dermatologist, etc. I go to the dentist every four months for a cleaning. I do this to catch small problems before they become big problems and to make sure that I am healthy enough to go on long voyages on small vessels beyond the reach of prompt medical care. I care about my health.

No company cares about our heath or does testing designed to keep us healthy. They only care about their potential liability.


The only pre-hire physical I recall (other than the quick stop by the doctor when getting a callout from the MEBA hall) taking was for a shore side job, and not even at ABS (which can be a very physically demanding job as a surveyor). It was when I hired on as an insurance adjuster. It was a nearly all day affair at a Kelsey-Seybold clinic.

I’ve noticed that companies with more extensive physicals, also have more paperwork, more stupid rules, more micromanagement, and more layers of management guys with bad attitudes snd licenses to be a jerk. They are rarely enjoyable jobs.

Another thing I’ve noticed, a company that requires you to bring your own bedding - will be a bad company to work for.

A company that micromanages the food will be a bad company to work for.

A company that charges the crew for phone calls and email, and worse, expects the captain to keep track of it, will be a bad company to work for.

Companies that don’t pay travel are usually bad companies to work for.

Companies with extensive physicals will usually have these other bad features. A bad attitude toward crew and a desire to nickel and dime the crew every way they can.

Guys that work for these kinds companies do not enjoy the work, they merely suffer through it for the money.

I generally enjoy doing the work at small companies. It’s not just a job, it’s a big slice of life. It’s not only about the money. If I don’t enjoy it, I leave.


I took a HUET class with a guy that was TERRIFIED of water. Not only could he not swim but he completely froze up in water. I have no idea how those instructors passed him with a clean conscience but at least that’s personal survival and other lives don’t depend on it (much).


Not exactly true with HUET though…that’s why I always tried to get the window seat. I don’t want to end up waiting on that guy who shouldn’t have passed to punch out the window while I’m stuck holding my breath in the aisle seat! (In reality/statistically it probably wouldn’t matter, much)

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HUET training does tend to separate the men from the boys.

Who cares…it’s just HUET, worse case scenario the helicopter goes down and the guy drowns because he can’t swim. Just put him away from the window so he doesn’t block someone else while he’s drowning.
I’ve seen them help a 72 year old 2 pack a day smoker through a HUET class once and didn’t bother me one bit. That crap is just for the oil companies anyway.

What bothers me more is the dumbing down of classes like Advanced Firefighting with fog machines and fake fires, or working with 450lb guy who really have no business in the industry yet somehow find a doctors palms to grease for a few signatures every 2 years.
These things can have an adverse effect on the entire crew in an emergency.

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When some high ranking muck amuck in the Washington bubble says this is the number we need by such a date, agencies comply. When DHS was expanding officer ranks, people who had trouble in firearm and combat training were babied and in many cases handed certificates without meeting the standards. By graduation day, honestly qualified candidates knew who they could count on if and when things went south and who the duds were. It isn’t pretty but it produces the numbers on order. Buyer beware.

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I’ve done the HUET and found it to be fine, it is not that physically demanding.

The psychically toughest course I have been on was probably the STCW Fast Rescue Boat training. It was the part they do in the swimming pool that was tough, the boat handling stuff they do was not very physically demanding.

The toughest task was when we had to climb into an upright FRB from the swimming pool. It was to replicate that through an accident there was nobody in the boat and someone had to climb back in again. I managed it ok but some other guys who were normal weight and had average upper body strength struggled to get back in, there is no way most overweight females would manage it without help from instructors.

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The HUET course shouldn’t tax the average adult and here in New Zealand many of the participants were sports divers or surfers.I passed without any problems in my late 60’s and completed my refresher course for FRB coxswain at the same time.

I remember one guy in HUET who said that his wife was an Olympic swimmer and that they do a lot of swimming. He was 40, fit and a good swimmer, but he freaked out when the simulator rolled over and he had to be rescued. There were young fit guys watching that refused to get into the simulator when it was their turn.