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Safety. Safety. Safety.

Did you hear about the Brit who fell off the back of the Norwegian cruise ship last week?  She was rescued apparently unharmed, but only after 10 hours of treading water, floating (and singing!) to stay alive.   Obviously, accidents do happen but any accident on board is one too many.

Safety of the family, guests, charterers and crew on any vessel is paramount. From the single deckhand relocating a tender to the 70-crew running the 164m superyacht Eclipse. 

If you’re new to superyachts, you’ll have to get up to speed with the yacht’s safety procedures, PDQ!  Every yacht should have clear safety regulations and guidelines for how people behave around the vessel, regular drills to perfect and update safety procedures, tutorials on how to use safety equipment and clear instruction on who does what in the event of an emergency.  Remember everyone has a duty of care and you won’t be an exception!

From the equipment yachts use to the procedures they follow, the most effective crew is the crew who work together, as a team, under good direction from their Captain.  Even though it’s the responsibility of the Captain to set the safety standard for the crew to follow and maintain, the crew must collaborate to ensure safety procedures are carried out effectively and efficiently to prevent injury, accident and if necessary save lives. 

Yachts need individuals who take responsibility, not just for themselves but for their fellow crew members and guests.  Use your common sense and keep your wits about you to make sure you all get home safely.  Be aware of potential hazards whether onboard, in water or ashore.

It’s not only the implementation of safety regulations that can make all the difference to crew safety but their continued improvement too.  Crew should be encouraged to strive for continued improvement, reporting anything that isn’t good enough, so it can be dealt with immediately, rather than individuals feeling reluctant to say for fear of being reprimanded and a potentially harmful situation worsening.

Even if accidents do occur, learn from them, one of the most effective ways to ensure crew safety is to carry out a post-accident analysis and put new measures in place to prevent the episode being repeated.  You can be sure there have been many discussions about how a passenger could fall off the back of a vessel’s railings in the past week!

A lot of accidents occur due to inexperience, lack of attention or acting in haste; in other words, human error. 

Although the yacht owner must provide a safe environment for his crew to work and is ultimately liable for upholding crew safety, there are obviously risks associated with working at sea, so assessing those risks and potential hazards is crucial.  Whether it’s fire risk in the galley, trip hazards on deck or risk of close proximity to the windlass brake!   Accidents do happen and it’s how you deal with them that’s important.

Owners should take responsibility, follow safety regulations, have ISM codes in place, ensure the Captain keeps a clean ship, invest in the right equipment and carry out regular safety drills and document it all.

Safety regulations and guidelines are set out by a number of organisations:

- ISM Code (International Safety Management Code) – considered by many a minimum requirement

- STCW (Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping)

- SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea)

- MCA Large Yacht Code

- Lloyds Class

- Guidelines from your flag state

- Yacht Management Company Compliance

For the smooth running of any yacht, the enjoyment and safety of her guests and success of her crew, safety procedures should be implemented effectively, adhered to and regularly updated. 

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