World Class Tug Master and Pilot Training,
Tugboat Simulation, Auditing and Assessments

Understanding HSEQ and Compliance in the Towage Industry

For quite some time I have been concerned about the lack of knowledge regarding occupational Health, Safety, Environment & Quality Assurance
(HSEQ) in the towage sector by masters, superintendents, and operational managers. 

Traditionally many of our personnel are recruited from the fishing industry, white-boat industry or off the deck. Hence their formal training and subsequent understanding of the laws, regulations, and rules pertaining to HSEQ and the need for not only compliance but as importantly proof of compliance in a lot of cases is not what it needs to be. Furthermore, not everyone has a clear understanding of what the IMO, Classification Society and Flag State roles are and how they interface along with the myriad of various Acts (Marine Act, OH&S Act, Ports & Harbours Act etc.), conventions (SOLAS, MARPOL, STCW, ISPS, MLC etc.) and industry governing organisations (ISO, BIMCO, OCIMF etc.). The operation of tugs within a port and sometimes mine site environment means that the risks, including compliance risk, associated are beyond the knowledge-base of most masters, chiefs, or managers in the towage sector.

In an effort to address this issue SeaWays has teamed up with Marine Certification Solutions (Capt. Jeff Hinnrichsen – who is the most knowledgeable person I know on this topic) to develop a series of eLearning lessons covering all aspects of what a master, superintendent and marine manager should know to be compliant and to manage their risks within the towage industry.
I initiated the development of these lessons, as I believe the knowledge-base and understanding of personnel in the towage sector of marine industry,
particularly those who have not gone through a “Blue Water” type academic training/qualification program, is lacking. Consequently, individuals and indeed companies are potentially left confused, ignorant and indeed legally exposed in a world that is more and more being driven by regulation, legislation, and litigation.

Jeff and I have been working on this project for near a year now to tailor the training to the needs of the sector. With regards to the course cost, we have endeavored to find a balance between value for money for the client and fair reward for the considerable work and expertise in developing these eLearning lessons. We have structured the lessons to offer the best value to my clients; the lessons are undertaken online via a series of learning modules in the employee’s own time. There is a multi-choice assessment process that ensures the lessons are actually undertaken and the knowledge has been gained. On completion of the assessment, a Certificate of Achievement for the individual is produced so that there is proof of learning for them and their company.

Initially, the eLearning is pertinent to the Australian towage sector requirements and we will progressively develop the courses specific to other major regions such as NZ, USA, UK, Europe, Asia, Canada and Middle East etc. This said 95% of the content covers all regions. If a company requires us to, we can also further develop the lesson modules to have company-specific elements added; for example, understanding Singapore Flag requirements for tugs on the Australian coast. The bottom line; in a worst-case scenario, a master or manager can find themselves in court defending charges, separate to those leveled at their employer, that have significant penalties, including fines in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and or imprisonment. I ask you, “how can you ensure compliance if you do not know what you have to be compliant to”?

For more information visit our eLearning website at

Article by Arie Nygh, SeaWays Consultants


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