AND STILL NO ACTION.....THE NATIONAL MARINER'S ASSOCIATION ASKED PROFESSIONAL MARINERS TO RESPOND DIRECTLY TO THE COAST GUARD.
The mariners did and still a year after that call to action, no response from the U.S. Coast Guard. America's Jones Act mariners still suffer the same work place safety hazards on July 9, 2015 that they did in 1958. Last year year the National Mariner's Association closed its doors after decades of unsuccessfully lobbying the Coast Guard and Congress for workboat industry safety. Just in case anyone is listening we repeat here the long standing issues.
BELOW IS AN OPEN :LETTER FROM CAPT. RICHARD BLOCK SECRETARY OF THE NATIONAL MARINER'S ASSOCIATION TO ALL U.S. MERCHANT MARINERS, BUT ESPECIALLY ALL WORKING IN THE TWO WATCH WORK BOAT TRADES. WE PASS IT ALONG UN EDITED AND RECOMMEND IT TO THE ATTENTION OF CONGRESS AND THE GENERAL PUBLIC AS WELL.
Editor's Note: 11/14/2014 The National Mariner's Association ceased operations permanently on June 30, 2014. The Library of Congress has accepted the extensive collection of numbered technical reports on marine safety and labor conditions. Other archival efforts are underway to assure the admiralty bar access to these reports, including efforts within the special interest pages of this blog. However the National Mariners Association has closed its books as a corporation and its last active participation still on going at this writing is an "Air Draft Project" (shipping and overhead obstructions on inland waterways). There are no future plans to restart the association or participate in future government, academic, or labor organization studies. Approximately 124,000 non union commercial mariners are now without an organized voice in safety of navigation and crews concerns. The association could not maintain investigative, publishing, and lobbying efforts on its member dues and donations. Important supporters in recent years have died, retired, or been forced by circumstances to reduce participation and donations. Volunteers from the active mariner membership all but disappeared due to employer pressure. With finances declining and leadership succession in doubt the decision was made to close, vice reduce operations. Of the several non union professional associations for commercial mariners in the Jones Act trades that have been operated since 1948 the NMA was the longest running and produced a lasting legacy of solid marine safety research. We urge former NMA members to now strongly consider some type of formal affiliation with the IBU ( Inland Boatman's Union. SEE: NMA CLOSES JUNE 30th
June 13, 2014
PLEASE TELL THE COAST GUARD HOW THESE 8 WORKPLACE SAFETY &
HEALTH ISSUES HAVE AFFECTED YOU!!!
Our Association petitioned the U.S. Coast Guard to consider preparing a rule making package to correct Eight (8) specific areas where shortcomings leave our mariners without adequate protections. In the (approximately 300 page) attachments to our petition, which asserts that the Coast Guard failed to provide adequate workplace safety and health measures to protect our 124,000 credentialed limited tonnage merchant mariners, the National Mariner's Association identified Eight (8) safety and occupational health issues that are not currently addressed under the jurisdiction of the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard will consider all comments received in response to this notice in
determining whether or not to initiate the requested rulemaking.
The Coast Guard agreed to open a Docket (file) to collect comments from members of the public (i.e., from Merchant Mariners). They must receive these comments on or before August 1, 2014. The Docket number is…. USCG-2014-0014 We attach NMA Report #R-202-E that summarizes Eight (8) specific and numbered areas. We ask you to send your comments on one or more of these items directly to the Coast Guard.
USCG Instructions “ADDRESSES: You may submit comments identified by docket number USCG-2014-0014 using any one of the following
(1) Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov.
(2) Fax: 202-493-2251.
(3) Mail: Docket Management Facility (M-30), U.S. Department of
Transportation, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590-0001.
(4) Hand delivery: Same as mail address above, between 9 a.m. and 5
p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The telephone number is 202-366-9329.
To avoid duplication, please use only one of these four methods.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: If you have questions on this notice, contact Mr. Dan Lawrence, Office of Vessel and Facility Operating Standards (CG-OES-2), U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters, at telephone 202-372-1382, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have questions on viewing or submitting material to the docket, call Cheryl Collins,
Program Manager, Docket Operations, telephone 202-366-9826.”
Our Observations & Suggestions
1. We ask that every active or inactive mariner receiving this letter to contact every other active or inactive mariner on his or her personal e-mail contact list and send them a copy of our request as soon as possible. We want to invite maximum participation.
2. We have spoken with the Project Officer, Mr. Dan Lawrence, who genuinely welcomes mariner comments. As mariners, we must help ourselves if we expect others to help us. This presents a rare but excellent opportunity.
3. This represents 15 years of background work by the National Mariners Association. You will find our full report entered as Docket item #USCG-2014-0014-0001. However, it may take a long time to download and read which is why we prepared and attached a summary.
4. If you are an active mariner, we suggest that you sign your name as ANONYMOUS to avoid possible employer blacklisting that our Association is still working to control.
5. Use the same numbering as in our attached report to help Mr. Dan Lawrence sort and consider each comment.
6. Do not be overly concerned about spelling or grammar. It is your observations and experience that count. Dan Lawrence was a seaman like you and will understand. Call him if you like, but your written comments are necessary.
7. You may mention specific times, places and employers. However, do not expect any “investigations” to result.
8. We suggest you visit our website that contains over 220 reports and 94 newsletters. Some of these reports are named in our summary report. Our website is www.nationalmariners.us and is run by our webmaster Capt. J. David Miller.
Thank you for your consideration,
Very truly yours,
Capt. Richard A. Block
National Mariners Association
WE HAVE MUCH UNFINISHED BUSINESS TO ACCOMPLISH IN WASHINGTON.
WE WOULD APPRECIATE YOUR DONATION TO HELP US GET THERE!!!
WE ASK THE COAST GUARD MARINE SAFETY DIRECTORATE TO ADDRESS OUTSTANDING MARINER OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ISSUES
(A Compendium of Reports Covering the Period 1970-2014)
Our Association asserts that the Coast Guard has failed to provide adequate workplace health and safety measures to protect our limited-tonnage merchant mariners. We view this is a longstanding failing on the part of the agency that is charged with superintendence over the U.S. merchant marine and merchant marine personnel. Each report outlined in the Table of Contents explains in greater detail the nature and extent of these shortcomings. Every two years, we prepare a report that is distributed to members of Congressional oversight committees. Consequently, we believe that we have informed these members on matters contained in this report.
Annotated Table of Contents [Those reports not downloadable from our website are available from our Association upon request with your e-mail address.]
1. [Mariners Working on the Outer Continental Shelf]
ó NMA Report #R-202-B, Rev. 3. Nov. 12, 2013. Coast Guard Marine Safety Directorate and OSHA Ignore Important Maritime Workplace Safety and Health Issues. 36p. Contents: OSH Act 29 U.S. Code §651. Contains correspondence with the Coast Guard on the proposed regulations in Docket #USCG-1998-3868 that could have revised and upgraded 33 CFR Subchapter N dealing with Outer Continental Shelf Activities. Contains proposed changes to Part 142 that deals with proposed changes that would have affected all vessels operating on the OCS. Also contains OSHA Directive CPL 2-1.20, that delineates OSHA/USCG Authority Over Vessels. While this extraordinary and detailed proposed rule represents many months of preparation by Mr. James M. Magill who was exceptionally well prepared to lead and execute this project, it clearly did not receive the necessary support and backing from the Coast Guard’s Marine Safety Directorate in the years between 2000 and 2009. Consequently, our Association has good reason to protest that our mariners were cheated of the workplace
protections this proposed level of regulatory protection would have provided over the extended time period (1970-2014) covered by this compendium and into the future. In addition, the proposed rulemaking only considered those mariners working on the OCS that illustrates that NMA Report R-202-B, Rev. 3 only scratches the surface as other reports will illustrate. [Refer to NMA File #GCM-269.]
2. [Personal Injury Reporting]
óNMA Report #R-350-Y, Rev. 1. July 4, 2013 Report to the 113th. Congress: Coast Guard Careless Personal Injury Reporting & Enforcement Practices. 9p. This report also contains 348 pages of supporting documentation. Our Association presented this problem to representatives of the Department of Homeland Security, Office of the Inspector General in reference to failures of the Coast Guard to enforce the reporting of personal injuries. Shortcomings of the Coast Guard’s investigative program were reported in DHS Report OIG-13-92 (May 2013). We assert that the Inspector General overlooked the problem of “Careless Personal Injury Reporting & Enforcement Practices” to concentrate on the shortcomings of the investigations program that they inherited from
an earlier (2008) report that gained Congressional attention following the Cosco Busan accident.
3. [Protecting Mariner Hearing]
óNMA Report #R-349. Rev. 1. Sept. 24, 2012. Report to Congress – Protecting Mariner Hearing. 8p. In spite of participating in and leading well informed International Maritime Organization discussions, the Coast Guard NMA REPORT #R-202-E DATE: November 14, 2013 By Capt. Richard A. Block
Secretary NMA Asserting our right “…to petition the Government for redress of grievances.” Amendment 1, U.S. Constitution, Dec. 15, 1791 124 North Van Avenue Houma, LA 70363-5895
Phone: (985) 851-2134
Fax: (985) 879-3911
i nfo@ national mariners.us2
failed to generate regulations or to effectively protect mariners’ hearing with a program comparable to OSHA’s program for the past 44 years.
4. [Adequate Potable Water]
óNMA Report #R-395, Rev. 4. Sept. 24, 2012. Report to Congress – Providing Safe Potable Water for Merchant Vessels. 14p. On our Association’s complaints, Congress directed the Coast Guard to provide adequate and safe potable water when they discovered that no other agency accepted responsibility for doing so. The Coast Guard has well established policies to provide safe potable water to its own personnel – but no comparable interest in applying the same policies to our mariners or enforcing them with its inspectors on inspected vessels. The Coast Guard made inquiry, received bona fide letters from major operators stating that no such problem existed on their
vessels – and dropped the matter. This missed the point. Our complaint was not made to harass companies that had effective programs. While Congress showed its concern, the Marine Safety Directorate conducted no investigation, and the problem remains. Because of the importance of safe potable water for the health of every
mariner, we assert that an annual check of the potable water system of every inspected vessel should be a part of each inspection for certification and with every complaint received.
5. [Asbestos Protection]
óNMA Report #R-445, Rev.1. Mar. 8, 2012. Report to Congress: Coast Guard Failed to Protect Mariners from Asbestos. 10p. OSHA has an effective set of asbestos removal regulations. The Coast Guard has an effective policy covering the removal of asbestos that applies to its own personnel but no comparable enforceable regulations that apply to merchant vessels. Recent public assertions by attorneys indicate that a nationwide problem still exists. All our mariners ask for is the protection that OSHA regulations provide to landside workers and enforcement wherever required.
6. [Work-Hour Limits].
óNMA Report #R-370, Rev. 4. March 2012. Report to Congress: Abuse of Mariners Under the Two-Watch System. 176p. Although Officers have an effective 12-hour limit to their workday, this is not true for seamen including deckhands, tankermen, unlicensed engineers, cooks etc. We have documented abuse in this report. Congress needs to include all mariners in the 12-hour coverage. We ask that the Coast Guard Marine Safety Directorate to prepare a Legislative Change Proposal seeking such a change. To quote from wording in the Marine Safety Manual(1): “…if the credentialed officers or crewmembers have no relief and are too fatigued to stand an alert watch, a hazardous condition is created and the owner and/or Master should not permit the vessel to continue to operate until the situation is remedied.” [
(1)Ibid, Vol .3, p.26-3 and elsewhere in Chapters 20-26.]
7. [Second Hand Smoke]
óNMA Report #R-341, Rev. 4. June 22, 2011. Petition to Congress: To Curb On-Board Smoking to Promote Merchant Mariner Health. 5p. óNMA Report #R-341-A. June 29, 2006. The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke. Executive Summary of 2006 Surgeon General’s Report. [Reprint.] 28p. The Coast Guard’s National Maritime Center enforces onerous regulations that determines whether a mariner meets the health standards to serve aboard merchant vessels. The Coast Guard protects its own land-based and seagoing personnel from the recognized dangers of second-hand smoke in the work place. We cannot understand why the Coast Guard’s supervision over the Merchant Marine(1) does not extend to controlling the health hazards
of second-hand smoke to the same extent as they do their own personnel and has become the norm throughout the rest of the country. [
(1)46 U.S. Code §2103]
8. [Personal Safety on Dry Cargo Barges]
ó NMA Report #R-426, Rev. 1. Aug. 27, 2007. Report to Congress: Challenges Facing the Coast Guard’s Marine Safety Program – Effectively Regulating the Towing Industry. 14p. [Key Words: Dry Cargo Barges; Construction Barges; OSHA]. ó NMA Report #R-202-D, Oct. 15, 2012. Offshore Operation of Unmanned Cargo Barges in the Gulf of Mexico. 72p. [Comments on Petition for Rulemaking Docket USCG-2011-0925.] Both the Coast Guard and OSHA have failed our mariners on this issue.
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