Safety ahoy!

Safety is every bit as important on the water as it is on land. That was the message I got from a bright young executive in the transportation business on the high seas this week.

I was encouraged by his insight and analysis of this traditional business that often reflects the changes in the global economy.

Business is booming and profitable for the executive's steamship company. They have just signed a contract with a Chinese firm to build six vessels at a cost of $180 million.

I tried to steer our conversation toward health and safety issues, but the conversation instead was a much broader circle of business interest. With the increase in the demand for service in moving payloads, there is a greater focus on the moral responsibility to protect lives and preserve the environment at sea.

Investing in protection of all the new and experienced seamen is based on a simple calculation. Safety dollars spent must equal or be greater than the possibilities of loss at sea or by dock. Figuring out what the potential indirect loss and moral obligation for each captain is crucial.

Champions of safety on the seas all understand the moral obligations to protect every employee, but I was interested in understanding what this industry considered the soft or intangible costs related to accidental losses. The short list included the following:

  • Disruption of delivery schedule
  • loss of experienced seamen
  • lower productivity
  • loss of market share
  • increase in insurance premiums
  • corporate-personal liability

All these factors directly impact the operation of a successful ship and the morale of the crew.

It is good to be educated by a young man who knows that lives are saved by fiscally and morally responsible leadership. Our future looks smooth on the international waters. 

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