Making the Most of Policies and Procedures


Published Dec 16, 2015 12:54 AM by Dione Lee

Most people who don’t live in the Pacific Northwest are unaware of our “wind events”, which consist of wind advisories, watches and warnings. Wind gusts can reach hurricane force and down trees and power lines, sometimes causing casualties. These events mostly impact Alaska, Canada, Washington, and Oregon, sometimes even Northern California. On one of these occasions of an impending “wind event”, I was copied on the following correspondence (slightly modified and abbreviated for publishing) from shoreside management of a San Francisco passenger vessel service company to the vessel crews: 

As many of you are aware the weather later this week calls for rain and high winds. The NWS has issued a high wind watch from Wednesday evening through Thursday evening.  Winds of 25-45 MPH with local gust of 50 MPH for urban locations. Please take this time to prepare your vessel and crews for this event. I have attached relevant policies and procedures to review with your crews. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask.  

Policies and Procedures to review are:

FOM 05a-005 – Assessment of Weather Conditions

FOM 05a-075 – Rough Weather and Restricted Visibility

FOM 05a-085 – Service Disruptions/Interruptions 

I have also attached a link to the San Francisco Marine Exchange Physical Oceanographic  Real Time System. This will give real time wind speed and direction for certain areas around the bay. There is a station at Pier 1, Ferry Building location that you may find helpful. 

I was impressed with how this company not only provided practical information to help prepare the crews, but “looped-back” to their policies and procedures for reference and relevance. This is a good example of keeping the dust off the binders and ensuring functionality of their Safety Management System (SMS) documents. This simple act showed commitment to their SMS and the welfare of their employees and passengers.

Well written policies and procedures should reflect top management’s commitment to safety and provide an effective and efficient means to easily access valid and useful information. If you find that you aren’t integrating your company’s policies and procedures as often as possible in day-to-day operations, then you might want to ask yourself, why not? By asking this question, you may discover a root cause as to why your employees may not be referencing them either or as often as you would like, which may include lack of awareness. The more these documents can be pointed to, the more meaningful and valuable they will become to those who need to use them.



The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.