HomeLibraryMaritime Law3 United States Coast Guard Initiatives for Regulating Maritime Safety

3 United States Coast Guard Initiatives for Regulating Maritime Safety

One of the United States Coast Guard’s (USCG) main missions is to improve safety at sea and protect mariners from harm. The United States Coast Guard implements a variety of regulations, tasks and programs to meet their objectives. One of their primary marine safety missions is to “enforce safe and environmentally sound operation of U.S. flagged vessels throughout the world.”

Let’s take a look at three of the USCG’s initiatives for improving safety.

Develop & Enforce Regulations and Standards

The Coast Guard takes part in the International Maritime Organization (IMO), a United Nations agency that regulates worldwide shipping. Along with other government agencies, the USCG develops regulations and standards that affect various maritime activities.

Some of the tasks the USCG performs to lay a good framework for maritime safety include:

  • developing vessel construction standards.
  • devising certification standards.
  • providing mariner training.
  • developing navigation regulations.
  • enforcing all applicable regulations.

Conduct Inspections

One of the ways the USGC ensures that vessels are carrying out the safety regulations and standards that they’ve set is by conducting inspections. Their main objectives in regard to inspections are to improve mariner safety and to eliminate substandard vessels from U.S. waters.

To ensure compliance with standards and regulations, the USCG aims to:

  • “Conduct inspections of U.S. and foreign vessels, marine facilities and review plans for vessel construction, alteration, equipment and salvage.”
  • “[R]eview and approve plans for ship construction, repair and alteration.”
  • “[I]nspect vessels, mobile offshore drilling units and marine facilities for safety.”

Failing to abide by USCG rules puts mariners at unnecessary risk and can mean citations, fines and seizure for vessel owners.

Perform Prevention Activities

The USCG is a workhorse when it comes to prevention activities. It understands that prevention is crucial to improving overall safety for those who work at sea.

Some of the safety programs and initiatives the USGC implements include:

  • commercial fishing vessel safety programs;
  • International Ice Patrol (protects ships transiting the North Atlantic shipping lanes);
  • documentation of U.S. flag vessels;
  • licensure of commercial mariners; and
  • the National Recreational Boating Safety Program (which implements “public education programs, regulation of boat design and construction, approval of boating safety equipment, and vessel safety checks for compliance with federal and state safety requirements.”)

When Your Employer Violates Regulations

Employees on a USCG-inspected vessel (meaning the vessel is subject to USCG inspection) have a right to contact the USCG and report suspected safety violations. Officials then will investigate the complaint, determine if there are any violations and issue a notice to the employer.

The USCG will also:

  • provide a report
  • send a Notice of Violation (if applicable)
  • provide instruction on how to correct the hazard.

Getting Legal Help if You Were Injured Due to USCG Safety Violations

If you were injured aboard a vessel and suspect there were USCG safety violations involved, contact a maritime attorney for legal counsel.

The Young Firm routinely handles cases of this nature, and we are equipped to help workers get the benefits they need if injured at sea. Call us today at 504-680-4100 for a free consultation and let us see how we may be able to help file a claim for compensation.


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