Thoughts on health and safety

Just finished reading the CG report on the sinking of the tug M/V Valour back in 2006. I was a bit surprised by one thing that stood out. The Chief Engineer. He had 27 years of experience. A related article indicated he was 50 years old. The report mentioned at his last check-up he weighed 379 lbs. Now, I’m near his age, (-6) and weighing 125 lbs LESS than him, on 6’3", I’m very aware of the need to drop a few. I’ll venture a guess and say he wasn’t in NFL lineman “healthy-fat” condition.
No question that with 27 years of experience, he was much-sought after for his experience and knowledge.
My question is this. At what point does a company say " If he went down while in the engine room, how would we get him on deck where he could be helo’d off. When does the size (health) of an individual become an issue, from a vessel safety standpoint? I’m not talking about a liability issue, since a company can simply say " Well, his doctor gave him a clean bill of health". Do companies even consider that, or would that be too much of an EEO issue.

The new NVIC for Mariner medical screenings may very well make it a lot harder for individuals like that to get/keep a license.

"The new NVIC for Mariner medical screenings may very well make it a lot harder for individuals like that to get/keep a license."
I would hope it would encourage people to take better care of themselves. I have seen medical standards used to keep people companies want and get rid of people they don’t want. There have been companies that have doctors that work exclusively for them and if the doctor’s boss wanted engineer Joe to pass or not pass a physical the ‘doctor’ will see to it. Hopefully there will be some oversight from NVIC now.

I don’t see how anyone could think that a doctor reviewing the file of a patient they have never laid eyes on or even spoken with is going to increase the overall health of professional mariners around the country. I agree with everything said in this thread pertaining to people needing to take better care of themselves. However, I feel the way which the new NVIC is being executed is bureaucracy at its worst. In my opinion it will do little to improve health of professionals mariners throughout the American fleet and just create more red tape and hoops for healthy mariners to jump through. It may keep a very small percentage of mariners diagnosed with heart trouble or on certain medications from standing watch. I agree that this is a good thing, but there has to be a more efficient way to screen these individuals as opposed to what is happening right now. As it is the NMC has an 8 to 10 week backlog in its medical evaluation bureau. It bewilders me that after all the preparations made to handle the switch between the REC’s and the NMC they have managed to come up with an even more inefficient system. And of course it is once again at the expense of the mariner. But I guess I’m just bitter as I wait to get my MMD/ STCW renewal and License Upgrade out of the MEB and approved so I can get back to work.

Similar to the physicals required of you when you go in the military, those “physicians” never laid eyes on you either, but they do do a pretty good job of sorting out the individuals that might not be able to cut the mustard when the #$%@ hits the fan. I understand your frustration RWLEO, but, I’d like to be a little more assured that the guy standing next to me isn’t going to vapor lock when things go South, just as much as he should be able to rely on me.
Getting the 27 year veteran, 379 lb. CHENG out of the lower engine room even if he was in “linebacker” condition would be challenging enough, let alone if he wasn’t in shape to be trying out for the NFL. Imagine all of that being compounded if he was being rescued by a group of La-z-boy Quarterbacks that just got done greezing down a back of pork rinds. Know what I mean? It ain’t gonna be nothin’ purty !!!
The new standards as laid out in NVIC 04-08 have managed to do one thing, at least for the frequent reader of these tomes - We’ve started paying better attention to our overall condition, as well as our diet. That being said, I can’t say that 04-08 is going to be a “bad” thing for any of us.
Besides, you can still watch “Nip Tuck” while you’re on the treadmill.

Personal health and fitness is important. Mariners, whether naval or merchant, may spend 80-90% of the time performing tasks that require 50% or less of their overall strength and energy. Then there is the remaining % of the time when they have to push themselves. Whether its firefighting, tank cleaning, or other operations. The problem is our daily activities onboard ship, depending on job, may well not be sufficient exercise to maintain or improve health. Then there’s what we get served in the mess. Not sure about the naval guys, but on the merchant side, usually the quality of the food, not its healthliness, that determines how much we eat. Since we all spend so much time afloat, this eating habits often undo any healthy eating we may do ashore.

I believe the navy provides exercise equipment on their vessels? How many merchant ships have workout equipment? how many have ROOM for it? I’ve only been on a few ships with decent gyms. The shipping companies should have a duty to provide means to maintain the health of their employees. We see this commonly ashore, with employers providing health and fitness programs to their employees. Shipping companies should provide at a minimum, basic cardio and weight training equipment. They should, through the storing process and training for captains, stewards and cooks, attempt to encourage cooking of healthier dishes. (don’t get me wrong, I like the bad stuff too, just learning not to eat it as often) I think the unions should be involved in this process too.

Yes, this may be pie in the sky, but aim high and you might get baby steps… (hey isn’t that the AF motto?)

My last few ships have had decent cardio and weight training equipment on board. Some companies are skeptical about purchasing equip. for the ships due to lawsuits. Crewmembers “injure” themselves while using the equipment. Next thing you know a guy is going home not fit for duty while signed on foreign articles and collecting wages, maint. & cure. for the balance of the voyage. The intent of the equipment is to promote health and anyone with common sense knows if you are less likely to have health issues if you exercise but all it takes is a few lawsuits and the good intention is lost. Frustrating I agree but its just a reality of the times.

My company requires you to take a physical exam that includes running the treadmill and lifting heavy blocks while you are hooked up to an EKG. Most other offshore drilling companies have adopted this as well and I have seen more than a few fail the test. I even know of a guy in great shape who failed twice.