Safety First! For the Day of the Seafarer 2024
Tuesday, June 25th, is the Day of the Seafarer, a day dedicated to recognizing the unique role seafarers play in keeping the world moving. This year’s theme, designated by the IMO (International Maritime Organization), is "Navigating the Future: Safety First!", which underscores the critical importance of safety in the industry, a priority that’s evident across Canada’s marine sector.

Safety is a paramount concern for vessel operators, spanning from small tugs and pilot boats operating in ports, to passenger ferries, barges, and massive commercial vessels. A safe crew is not only a happy crew but also a stable and efficient one -- the foundation for ensuring the smooth functioning of marine operations.

Safety Training and Certifications

In Canada, commitment to safety starts well before seafarers even step aboard a vessel. Prospective mariners must obtain a valid Marine Emergency Duties (MED) certificate, a standardized qualification that can be earned at 41 institutions across the country. Continuous training and certification programs ensure that individuals are well-versed in the latest safety protocols and emergency response techniques to be prepared to handle potentially critical situations on the water.

Learn more about Marine Emergency Duties and its role in preparing seafarers for serious situations.

“Canadian ships are some of the safest in the world! Thanks to a robust system of safety regulations, inspections, and comprehensive training requirements, our mariners benefit from knowing that the work they do every day is on properly maintained and outfitted vessels. Working in a maritime environment can come with significant daily challenges due to unpredictable and harsh weather conditions. Luckily, we navigate those waters knowing the regulatory framework is in place to keep our people safe.”

- Alex Irwin, Port Captain at SAAM Towage

New Technology in Safety Advancements

Technological developments have revolutionized the marine industry, with significant strides made in enhancing onboard safety and crew well-being, remembering the critical impact well-being can have on safety. The life of a seafarer has improved drastically in recent years. There used to be a time when seafarers would go to sea and not be able to have any contact with shore for months at a time. Nowadays, Canadian seafarers have access on many vessels to satellite television and high-speed Wi-Fi daily. Below are 2 examples of technologies that are working to help protect waterways and mariners:

  • Improved Navigation Systems: Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS) provide real-time information on ships’ positions and surroundings, reducing the risk of grounding or collision. Institutions, including Western Marine Institute and the Canadian Coast Guard College offer courses that teach the safe operation of ECDIS and electronic chart systems.

  • Collision Avoidance Technology: Automatic Identification System (AIS) allows vessels to automatically share their position, speed, and course with other ships and shore stations. This technology has been crucial in busy ports.

“Safety has significantly improved for mariners over the years with more training, reporting, and enhancements to safety protocols. Ship Owners regularly come together and work collaboratively to help shape the evolution of regulatory changes as it pertains to safety.”

- Kyle Richardson, Human Resources at Lower Lakes Towing

Programs for Zero Accidents

When it comes to safety, prevention is always better than response. Many marine operators and organizations are committed to achieving “zero accidents” through comprehensive safety programs. Fatigue is a known and studied safety hazard in marine transportation; recognizing and addressing it is necessary for managing its risks. Last March, the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS), in partnership with Transport Canada, launched a free online course to help those who work in the marine industry mitigate the risks associated with onboard fatigue.

Another notable example of effective zero accident programs is Algoma Central Corp.'s robust Safety Management System (SMS), which aims to enhance employee safety and create safer working conditions through systematic risk assessment and management procedures, including regular safety audits, risk assessments, and crew training.

“This is an industry where safe practices are not just the right way of doing business; it’s the ONLY way.”

- Joachim Pektzilikoglou, Senior Manager, Quality, Safety, and Environment at Algoma Central Corporation

Continuous advancements in technology, comprehensive training programs, and robust safety initiatives are all key to ensuring that seafarers can navigate the future with confidence and security. It’s also vital that industry stakeholders collaborate to share best practices and learn from each other’s experiences to continue prioritizing the highest standards of wellbeing.
web design
Join the conversation
Imagine Marine, a CMCF Initiative. © 2024, Canadian Marine Careers Foundation, all rights reserved.