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Allegretti: AWO publishes best practices for mariner licensing, medical standards

Dec 20, 2012 03:10 PM

AWO Working Group on Mariner Licensing & Medical Standards - Best Practices

Here are steps mariners can take to better navigate the U.S. Coast Guard credentialing process

The following best practices were compiled by The American Waterways Operators based on the experience of member companies. These best practices can make the credential application and renewal process less confusing and help to ensure that your application is processed efficiently by the Coast Guard’s National Maritime Center.

I. TAKE RESPONSIBILITY–YOUR LICENSE IS YOUR LIVELIHOOD

You can take steps to lessen the likelihood of lengthy credential application delays by being proactive about your health.

Get your physical exam at least six months before your application is due and start the renewal process early. If you have a known medical condition, find out what testing or documentation is required by the Coast Guard and include this information with your application.

If you apply early, remember to ask the NMC to delay issuance of your new credential so it becomes valid shortly before your old credential expires. This will avoid “license creep” and ensure you get the full benefit of your credential’s five-year validity period.

Take advantage of time between required physicals to work to improve known conditions.

Educate yourself about common medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and sleep apnea and what the Coast Guard requires if you have one of these conditions.

Visit the NMC website (www.uscg.mil/nmc) often and sign up for the Mariner Medical listserv to receive the latest updates from the NMC. To subscribe to this and other available lists, go to http://cgls.uscg.mil/groups.php. To contact the NMC Mariner Information Call Center, dial 1-888-427-5662.

Make sure to include an e-mail and cell phone contact on your application.

Involve your spouse and family in helping you manage your medical conditions and attain or maintain a healthy weight.

No mariner wants to be left shoreside waiting for the NMC to process their credential, and getting an early start on renewals can ensure that you, your company, and the NMC have time to work through complex issues that could lead to delays.


II. WORK WITH YOUR EMPLOYER – THEY’RE HERE TO HELP

Your employer is a resource to help you navigate the credential application process, so make use of any assistance they can provide.

Company representatives can show you how to submit a complete application, put you in contact with NMC representatives to answer your more detailed questions, and recommend a doctor who is familiar with Coast Guard requirements.

Your company can also recommend licensing consultants to further help you navigate the process.

Consider signing a third-party release on your credential application, so that your employer can speak directly to the NMC on your behalf. This can be especially helpful when you are busy on board the vessel.

Some companies provide opportunities for employees to improve their health by providing exercise equipment and nutrition education resources. If your company does not such resources, talk to them about it.

 

AWO Working Group on Mariner Licensing & Medical Standards - Best Practices

Here are steps companies can take to better navigate the U.S. Coast Guard credentialing process

The following best practices were compiled by The American Waterways Operators based on the experience of member companies. These best practices can assist companies in working with their mariners and with the Coast Guard’s National Maritime Center to make the credential application and renewal process less confusing and ensure that their mariners’ applications are processed as efficiently as possible.

I. SUPPORT YOUR MARINERS

Most mariners only deal with the NMC once every five years and find the process confusing and intimidating.

Designate a person in your company who can act as a resource for your mariners and a liaison with the NMC.

Clearly describe necessary competencies, including physical demands of the job, in position descriptions.

Educate mariners on what they need to do when applying for or renewing a credential, then stand by to help.

Encourage mariners with known medical conditions to complete the testing and provide the information required by the Coast Guard along with their application. This will reduce the likelihood of a response from the NMC requesting additional information from the mariner.

Offer to review a mariner’s application before it goes to the NMC. The most common causes of credential processing delays are incomplete or improperly completed applications.

Foster a policy of open communication and trust. Encourage your mariners to sign a third-party release allowing you to work with the NMC on their behalf, especially when they are on board the vessel.


II. FOSTER A PARTNERSHIP WITH THE COAST GUARD

Treat the Coast Guard as a partner, not as an adversary. -2-

Take the time to understand the Coast Guard’s credential application and appeals process so you can advise your mariners appropriately, and develop an understanding of relevant Coast Guard regulations.

Take advantage of opportunities to meet and build relationships with NMC staff. The NMC has representation at many industry events throughout the year, and encourages direct outreach from their customers.

Visit the NMC website (www.uscg.mil/nmc) often and sign up for the Mariner Medical listserv to receive the latest updates from the NMC. To subscribe to this and other available lists, go to http://cgls.uscg.mil/groups.php. To contact the NMC Mariner Information Call Center, dial 1-888-427-5662.


III. PROMOTE MARINER WELLNESS

Adopting company policies that foster a culture of health and wellness will help your mariners retain their credentials and navigate the renewal process more efficiently.

Develop an education program to promote healthy living beginning with employees in entry level positions.

Consider modifying your benefits plan to cover the costs of preventative medical procedures and tests.

Provide resources and incentivize cooks to prepare healthy meals.

Consider requiring mariner physicals more frequently than once every five years as a matter of company policy. Early awareness of a medical issue that may complicate the renewal of a mariner’s credential can provide critical lead time to address the issue.

Establish a relationship with a reputable medical practice (or several such practices in different parts of the country).

Get legal advice on how to ensure your company is kept informed about pertinent mariner medical issues, including medical waivers.

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Thomas Allegretti is president and chief executive of American Waterways Operators. For more information on the AWO Working Group on Mariner Licensing & Medical Standards, please contact Jennifer Carpenter or Brian Vahey at (703) 841-9300, extensions 260 and 251, respectively, or via e-mail at jcarpenter@vesselalliance.com or bvahey@vesselalliance.com
 

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