The American Waterways Operators (AWO), a 350-member trade association representing the nation’s tugboat, towboat and barge industry, has released recommended best practices to assist both companies and mariners in navigating the U.S. Coast Guard’s mariner credentialing and medical review process.
AWO compiled the best practices based on feedback from industry members through its Working Group on Mariner Licensing and Medical Standards, as well as input from the Coast Guard’s National Maritime Center (NMC).
Among the best practices suggested to companies, AWO recommends gaining familiarity with the Coast Guard credentialing process, designating a representative to interact with employees and the NMC, and offering to review a mariner’s application before it goes to the NMC. Additionally, AWO encourages employers to view the Coast Guard as a partner in the medical credentialing process and to take the time to develop relationships with NMC staff. Companies should also take steps to promote mariner wellness as part of their workplace culture.
By the same token, mariners are encouraged to be proactive about their own health and to view their license as their livelihood. AWO also suggests that mariners with common medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and sleep apnea become familiar with what the Coast Guard requires in the event of these conditions and use their employer as a resource to help navigate the credentialing process.
“These best practices are drawn from the experience of AWO members who know what works to help companies and mariners work through a sometimes confusing credential application and renewal process,” said Tom Allegretti, AWO’s President & CEO. “We are grateful to the many AWO members who shared the lessons of their own experience to help other companies and mariners navigate the credentialing process more effectively.”