5 Tips For Crew Safety

Safety; something crew often take for granted until it is too late. Whether it’s failing to wear a harness when trying to clean hard to reach windows, corners and rails or neglecting lifesaving precautions in the engine room, on the tender boat, or dinghy.

Remembering the kill cord could spare you your job, your limbs and your life.

Knowing this, why do we still see crew acting irresponsibly when it comes to the safety of themselves and the conservation of the vessels they work on. Below are tips that will keep you, your passengers and crew out of harm's way:


  1. Know the rules and follow them


Safety codes such as SOLAS, STCW and MCA LY3 must be respected and followed at ALL times. Common sense right? Well, all the recent photographs of crew balancing themselves over the sides of yachts proves that common sense isn’t so common.

All these precautions are the result of tragedies and accidents that preceded them.  Your safety and the safety of the passengers you are responsible to is the primary objective of the preventative measures. There’s no point in crew getting certificates for safety courses if they’re going to act irresponsibly on board.


Dangerous areas must be identified and clearly marked. Personnel need to wear the correct safety gear when handling hazardous machinery. Most importantly; only crew cleared to perform particularly risky tasks should do it. Don’t take chances with your safety, and the lives of others.


  1. Practise makes perfect


Drills aren’t fun but they save lives. During a 6 month season it is advised that the vessel go through at least two drills. This is to make sure everyone, crew and passengers, know what to do in the unfortunate case of an emergency.


Over the past year dozens of vessels have unexpectedly caught fire. Tenders have driver straight into yachts, crew have fallen from dizzying heights and passengers have critically injured themselves. All due to negligence. Studies have shown that having refresher courses with your crew can decrease on board accidents by up to 73%. All it takes is an hour, every 14 weeks to make sure your crew is on the same page safety wise.


Practising safety drills with your crew is fundamental because training schools go about it in their own unique ways. When you go through safety as a crew, you consolidate your collective understanding and create a routine for yourselves should you ever need it. So practise; because it it better to be safe than sorry.


  1. Lead by example


Parents are always saying, “Do as I say and not as I do.” But we all know children are impressionable creatures who are informed by their parents’ actions. As a Captain, your crew are your children; because for the most part you are responsible for their, safety and well-being. HOD’s can be considered the older siblings, or ‘nanny’ figures who follow your direction as the decision maker.


The onus falls on you to set a good example. Having the knowledge that your crew is trained in safety rules and regulations isn’t enough. How you insist those codes are implemented and followed will make the difference.

Crew should be encouraged to report any inefficiencies they notice. Not in a manner that fosters a tattle-tailing culture; rather in a way that respects the safety of everyone on board and works for the success of service.


Be the type of crew member you want the rest of your staff to be. When they see you taking safety seriously, they will step up so as to not disappoint you. If you work to improve your safety awareness, your crew will soon follow suit.


  1. Learn from your mistakes


Post-Accident Analysis (PAA) is vital. Say a small fire started in the kitchen; one of the galley hands decided to be a hero and ended up with a nasty second degree burn along their arm. The first port of call would be getting the injured party the proper treatment. However, before the dust settles and recollections of the incident become hazy a PAA must be conducted.


All present parties must give an account of the incident. We suggest you get the reports individually as people’s experiences of same situation tend to differ. Be sure to create a relaxed environment when talking to the crew. When someone feels threatened they go into defense mode which means they will either lie to protect themself or someone else, or their subconscious begins to fiddle with the memory as a self-preservation tactic.


Once you’ve established a chronological timeline of events you can deal with what needs to be dealt with and discipline crew if need be. That isn’t what’s most important. The PAA is the most fruitful document of the entire matter. You now know what has proven to be dangerous, what behaviour is sure to lead to disaster, and how to prevent such occurrences from happening again. George Santayana believed, “Those who don’t learn from history are condemned to repeat it.”


  1. Take responsibility


Yachts are beautiful vessels. They provide passengers with great joy. But yachts are accidents waiting to happen if you aren’t careful. A Deckhand could trip over a dishevelled rope, a distracted Stewardess could slip on a floor that’s just been polished. In instances like that one must take responsibility for their part.

Playing the victim card is fair if your injury is the result of someone else's negligence. If you twisted your ankle because you were fooling around then suck it up and be sure to pay better attention next time. Making mistakes is a given. Expect to mess up at least once. Lick your wounds, pick yourself up and keep going.

Carelessness is a killer. Apathy can make assassins of us all. Captains always look to employ crew that are attentive to detail because one mistake has the potential to be catastrophic. For the sake of the other people on the yacht you’re working, be sure to practise absolute vigilance when it comes to safety precautions. An accident certainly isn’t worth the regrets of should’ve, would’ve, could’ve.