ISSUE: AEU Maritime Safety and Claims Forum

The “fall” season this October was a busy one for Steve Morris, and for the entire Loss Control team at The American Equity Underwriters (AEU).

Steve, a Senior Loss Control Manager for AEU, was a speaker at the Shipbuilders Council of America’s Fall Health & Safety Seminar in Louisville, KY on October 4th and 5th.  The Seminar is sponsored in part by AEU.  Steve’s topic was, “Safety Responsibilities of Managers and Supervisors”.

Steve was back at it on October 10th in New Orleans as the Chairman of AEU’s Maritime Safety Forum.  We’ve previously referred to this semi-annual Forum (formerly known as the AEU Safety Committee) as the premier maritime safety event in the country.  This is not hyperbole.  This event, providing a unique educational and entertaining sharing opportunity for Members of the American Longshore Mutual Association (ALMA), their brokers, and special invitees, continues to expand as the number of attendees grows. 

In recent years, the recurring description of the most recent Forums has been “the largest yet”.  This October 2012 meeting is no exception, with over 100 total attendees. 

Among the many features and presentations, the program included individual Members’ Safety Program Reviews by Roy Martin of Jeffboat and Tony Flores of International Transportation Service.  There also was a presentation on “Executive Management Support for Safety”, separate breakout Sessions for shipyards and marine cargo handling segments, an Introduction to the AEU Maritime Industry Fall Prevention Guidance Document, a presentation on “Drug Use in the Work Place – New Synthetic Drugs” by DEA Agent Dan Holmes, and a presentation on “Strain Injury Prevention” by Trevor Bardarson, Senior Vice President of Clinical Operations, Industrial Safety and Rehabilitation Institute.

Each presentation was very well received and was accompanied by considerable interaction with attendees through numerous comments and questions.

The Forum also introduced a new feature, and one that is expected to expand in the future.  The initial AEU Maritime Claims Forum commenced immediately upon the adjournment of the Safety Forum.  On hand to meet with Members were several of the claims experts from the American Equity Risk Services’ (AERS) Metairie office.  AERS is now a wholly owned subsidiary of AEU.

During the Claims Forum there were presentations on “Controlling and Securing the Accident Scene” by A.J. Montalbano of AEU, “Identifying and Preserving Subrogation” by Royce Ray, AEU’s Director of Subrogation, and “Neuro-Pain Management Diagnosis and How to Better Understand and Manage This Medical Care” by Dr. Kevin Bianchini. There was also an open Q & A Panel Discussion led by Will Scheffler, the AERS’ Director of Claims, and Frank Moreau, also of AERS.

As usual, this latest Forum was the biggest and best yet.

Jimmy Burgin, AEU’s Director of Loss Control, announced that the next AEU Maritime Safety Forum is tentatively scheduled for April 10 and 11, 2013, at a location to be determined.

If you have any questions about this most recent Forum or the AEU Safety Forum in general you can contact me at

Safety in Seattle

Submitted by: Jimmy Burgin, Senior VP and Director of Loss Control for AEU

The AEU Safety Committee held its twelfth meeting October 6 – 7, 2010 in Seattle and was chaired by Mr. Steve Morris, AEU Senior Loss Control Manager.  The meeting was the most well attended of any AEU Safety Committee, which is an indication of how valuable the committee is to ALMA members.   

AEU President & CEO Mike Lapeyrouse opened the meeting with a discussion of why companies must have good loss control programs and how loss control contributes to AEU’s success.   Mr. Matt Mayon, Safety Manager with Conrad Industries, gave the committee some insight into the Conrad Safety Steering Committee program and the successes the company has made.  Mr. Mayon urged ALMA members to implement this effective tool to build accountability into the safety process.   AEU Senior Vice President Larry Kangas discussed how coaching and counseling skills should be used to build safety culture at an organization.  

Next, the committee participated in an open panel on USL&H claims management.  Sitting on the panel were AERS Branch Manager, Will Scheffler and Senior Vice Presidents, Jack Martone and Donna Long.  The panel covered “Permanent Partial Disability and the Employer’s Burden to Show Suitable Alternative Employment”.  

Following a lunch provided by AEU, the committee was informed about recent issues in maritime crane safety.   Mr. Mike Parnell, a recognized industry expert in cranes and President of Industrial Training International, gave this interesting presentation.  He opined that OSHA’s new crane and derricks standard in the construction industry will not be carried over to maritime cranes.   He also discussed the proximate cause of several major crane related failures.  AEU’s Carl Halgren informed the group of OSHA’s new penalty structure, which means that if OSHA finds safety violations, employer penalties will be higher than previous amounts.   The Shipyard and Marine Cargo Handling Sub-committees met the remainder of the afternoon.  Both had productive break-out sessions.


  • Shipyard Tool Box Safety Meetings
  • Shipyard Small Business Plan
  • Safe Ship Fitting Practices
  • OSHA Inspections in Shipyards
  • Bridging Documents between Shipyard Labor Providers and the Primary Shipyard Contractor


  • Gangway Talks for Marine Cargo Handling
  • Review of OSHA’s RoRo Safety Guidance Document
  • OSHA Inspections in Marine Cargo Handling
  • Safety Committee Structure in Marine Cargo Handling
  • Marine Cargo Handling Small Business Plan

The second day of the meeting began with a presentation from T.C. Kurtz of Check-6 Safety Systems, who is also an ALMA member.   Mr. Kurtz outlined how his company is bringing critical behavior issues into the oil and gas industry.   Chairman Morris provided the committee with a copy of AEU’s Strain Injury Prevention program and asked the committee to write a guidance document on strain injury prevention. 

For the final meeting presentation, ALMA member Hitrak Staffing, Inc.’s Dr. Paul Friedman discussed best methods to conduct employee placement screening.  To conclude the meeting, Chairman Morris thanked everyone for participating and reminded the committee to submit ideas for the next AEU Safety Committee.  We look forward to the next meeting, which will be held April 6 – 7, 2011 in Charleston, South Carolina.

NMSA Recognizes AEU for Safety Expertise







The National Maritime Safety Association (NMSA) Annual Meeting was held last week in New Orleans at the Windsor Court Hotel June 23-25, 2010.  AEU is honored to have had our Senior Vice President and Director of Loss Control, Jimmy Burgin, moderate a panel discussion on Safety and the Next Generation: Shipyards v. Marine Cargo Handling at the meeting.  The panel included John Belcher, Regional Director of Loss Control with Cooper/T. Smith Stevedoring, Matt Mayon, Director of Safety with Conrad Industries and Steve Morris, Senior Loss Control Manager with AEU.

Jimmy Burgin has more than 20 years’ experience in maritime loss control.  He has served on the National Maritime Safety Association’s Technical Committee for fourteen years and six of those years served as Chairman of NMSA’s Technical Committee.   NMSA named Burgin the 2007 Man of the Year on March 28, 2008, recognizing him for his dedication in achieving safety in the marine cargo handling industry.

The National Maritime Safety Association (NMSA) represents the marine cargo handling industry in the United States in safety and health matters arising under various statutes, including the Occupational and Safety Health Act.

AEU Safety Committee Meeting held in Mobile

The American Equity Underwriters, Inc. (AEU) has just completed the latest meeting of its Safety Committee. The meeting was held in Mobile, AL during October 5 – 7, 2009, and it was attended by nearly 70 of the top maritime safety professionals in the country. It was a complete success by any measure. So let’s go ahead and measure it.

Socially, the attendees watched the Packers/Vikings game in catered comfort at AEUs headquarters office in downtown Mobile on Monday night and had dinner as a group at Felix’s Fish Camp, one of Mobile’s best restaurants on Tuesday night.

Attendance was astonishing. I have been to safety meetings and seminars conducted by other organizations recently where the presenters nearly outnumbered the attendees.

Feedback and evaluation by the attendees was uniformly very positive.

Expertise represented in the room was impressive. As I noted above, these were many of the top shipyard and stevedore safety experts in the country.

Technical content of the presentations was first class as always. Topics included Oil Industry Safety Training, Functional Capacity Testing, a MACOSH/OSHA Update, Lifting Gear Safety, Precautions for Working Inside Confined/Enclosed Spaces, and Claims scenarios in which the U.S. Department of Labor’s New Orleans District Director, David Duhon, participated. And finally, by any

Yardstick (there’s an acronym hidden here somewhere) I can safely say that the AEU Safety Committee Meeting has become the premier event of its type in the industry. The confidence that the American Longshore Mutual Association (ALMA) members have in AEU Senior Vice President Jimmy Burgin and his Loss Control Specialists Steve Morris, Rick Ellis, and Carl Halgren is clear as is the members’ appreciation for the improvement in their safety records that comes along with ALMA membership.

Note to Brokers: These are happy members. And the Safety Committee meetings are open ALMA members and their brokers.

The next meeting of the AEU Safety Committee is scheduled to be held in Mid-April, 2010 in New York City. Committee Chairman Steve Morris is seeking suggested topics for the next meeting. Please post your suggestions as comments to this blog posting.