ISSUE: Safety Awards

I’ve postponed the discussion of employee fights in parking lots so that I can take note of an important event. The American Equity Underwriters, Inc. is announcing its 2011 American Longshore Mutual Association Safety Awards this week at the annual ALMA Conference.  These awards are given to the best performing ALMA Members.  The awards are based on the number of accidents and the severity of accidents each calendar year.  Three safety awards are presented in both the Marine Cargo Handling and the Shipyard industries.

These Safety Awards, and others like them, are very important. 

Winners of these awards are justifiably proud of their accomplishment.  The award is an acknowledgement that they are leaders in arguably the most important aspect of business operation – protecting employees from injury or death.  This is the one effort that should lead all others as businesses strive for improved results and better performance.  An enlightened management will agree that improved employee safety is a number one priority.  The realization that improved worker safety will lead to improved financial performance is, of course, why such management is enlightened.  I know first hand that AEU puts a great deal of time and effort into providing loss prevention services for ALMA members.

Once an injury occurs the ripple effect of bad consequences is rapid and widespread, goes way beyond increased insurance premiums, and includes a variety of costs to business as well as financial and personal problems for the injured worker.

Once all of the forms are filled out, and once the doctors have commenced arguing about the degree of medical disability, and the lawyers have begun arguing about how much the disability will cost, and the vocational specialists have begun disagreeing about what jobs may be suitable as alternate employment for the injured worker, at that point the employer and the worker are already losers.

The accidents that never happen and the injuries that never occur produce the winners who matter the most, the workers and their employers.

In my opinion safety programs and loss prevention efforts are the foundations of good business; successful safety and loss prevention is essential to a successful business operation (I was about to say essential to a successful insurance program, but it goes beyond that.)

So these Safety Awards matter a great deal.  And these awards are not popularity contests; they are earned by performance substantiated by recorded experience.  Or to put it another way, it’s safe to say that these awards are no accident.  Companies that win these awards should be recognized publicly so that they can be emulated, and the employees responsible deserve the public recognition.

Here are the 2011 ALMA Safety Award winners that are being announced this week at the ALMA Conference in Grand Cayman:

Marine Cargo Handling – International Transportation Services

Marine Cargo Handling – Levin Enterprises, Inc.

Marine Cargo Handling – Schaefer Stevedoring, Inc.

Shipyard Safety Award – Signal International, LLC

Shipyard Safety Award – Candies Shipbuilders, LLC

Shipyard Safety Award – Signet Maritime Corporation

Congratulations to these industry leaders.

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.