Every year, SIU Safety Directors and other team members from various ports gather to share knowledge and experience, as well as receive information about the latest safety trends and regulations from SIU and Paul Hall Center officials. This year, however, the safety team met virtually, through three days of video conferences with subject matter experts, members of the SIU Executive Board and other presenters.
The safety team included Ben Anderson (from the port of Tacoma, Washington), Amber Akana (Honolulu), Osvaldo Ramos (Jersey City, New Jersey), Andre MacCray (Philadelphia), Kevin Marchand (Fort Lauderdale, Florida), Kevin Sykes (Houston), Gerret Jarman (Algonac, Michigan), Joseph Koncul (Jacksonville, Florida), Nick Marrone II (Oakland, California), Shane Sterry (Baltimore), Anthony Houston (Norfolk, Virginia), James Brown (New Orleans) and Gordon Godel (Wilmington, California).
Topics covered included SIU election information, COVID-19 policies, and updates to the curriculum and recruiting efforts of the SIU-affiliated Paul Hall Center for Maritime Training and Education (PHC). The meetings would ordinarily be conducted at the PHC, but due to current health concerns, every member of the safety team joined the video conference from their respective hiring hall offices – or their own homes.
Presentations were led by SIU Secretary- Treasurer David Heindel, Vice President of Contracts George Tricker, Vice President Great Lakes and PHC Acting Vice President Tom Orzechowski, Vocational Director Wayne Johnson Jr., Seafarers Plans Administrator Maggie Bowen, PHC Vice President Bart Rogers, and SIU Plans Medical Director Dr. Eric Shaub.
Orzechowski, who acted as this year’s virtual host, said, “Although we’re used to seeing each other face to face for these conferences, with the current national health crisis, we decided to meet virtually. I was very pleased with the digital platform, as well as the level of participation from the members of the safety team.”
Orzechowski also praised the safety directors and added, “We covered everything virtually that we would have covered in person. That said, we do hope we will be able to hold next year’s meeting in person.”
“I thought it went well,’ said Johnson. “In our current situation, I think we adapted and overcame the technical challenges in order to have the best possible meetings. I think we delivered some useful information, and I think we got some good feedback and meaningful discussions out of it. Overall, I think it went as well as we could have hoped.”
MacCray said, “It was a little different this year, obviously, but I think it was a good experience. It was nice being able to go home at the end of the day, as opposed to having to travel for the meetings. Overall, I don’t think it ended up being much different than it would have been in person. We all still came away with new and useful information, and I think the whole thing went very smoothly. I think everyone, especially Wayne (Johnson), did a great job in adapting to the new way we had to do business. Hopefully we can get back to business as usual soon.”