October 21, 2020

LWCC Safest 70 Star: Cenac Marine Services

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LWCC's Safest 70 Awards celebrate policyholders who share our commitment to workplace safety. Our Safest 70 Starts go above and beyond in their safety efforts and lead the way in employee health and well ness. For more information about the Safest 70 Award program, click here.

Late one night in Matagorda Bay, just off the Texas coast, a tugboat by the name of Jackie Cenac was crossing the channel on its way back to Louisiana during a routine underway vessel watch. The tankerman, employed by Cenac Marine Services, a push boat and tank barge construction, repair, and maintenance company, had reached the head of the tow when he heard cries for help coming from the direction of the channel marker. Without hesitation, the tankerman radioed the captain with a Stop Work Authority (SWA) request, a safety protocol implemented by Cenac Marine to encourage its employees to stop work when faced with unsafe conditions.

The captain slowed the tow and swung its spotlight toward the channel marker, where he saw three men — a grandfather, father, and son — clinging to the buoy. Their fishing vessel had hit a wave, tossing them from the boat and leaving them stranded for several hours. The Cenac crew threw the skiff into the water and rescued the family. Thanks to the SWA safety protocol put in place by Cenac Marine, the tankerman was able to shut down a job and save a family, all without any fear of repercussion from his employer.

This is just one example of how Cenac Marine’s exemplary commitment to safety has earned the company its ninth LWCC Safest 70 Award. The Safest 70 Awards celebrate Louisiana businesses that practice the highest standard of safety precautions while supporting Louisiana through their products or services. An LWCC policyholder for 27 years, Cenac Marine has a proven history of dedication to safety, making it a prime choice for our first Safest 70 Star. “The safety policy of Cenac Marine Services is based on the conviction that the well-being of our employees is our first consideration,” said Tim Moore, safety manager at Cenac Marine, which has been headquartered in Houma, in Acadiana, for more than 90 years.

Shipyards can be hazardous work environments, with ample opportunity for accidents: slips and falls, fire, smoke inhalation, man overboard, overhead dangers, heat-related risks, heavy machinery accidents, and confined-space incidents. But Moore said Cenac Marine has done an excellent job mitigating or eliminating those risks through regular training, safety initiatives, investing in infrastructure improvements, and a culture of safety leadership that comes directly from the top.

In addition to implementing SWA, Moore said Cenac Marine holds daily toolbox safety meetings, monthly overall safety meetings, and requires a variety of safety certifications for employees such as Marine Confined Space Competent Person Training, Fire Watch, Ladder Height Safety, and adheres to safety advice offered by LWCC. “Over the years, LWCC’s Loss Prevention Consultants have always stressed proper lifting techniques along with providing back safety literature,” said David Bourgeois, Cenac’s director of human resources. “This has substantially reduced our back injuries.” They’ve also implemented a three-strike policy for employees engaging in unsafe behavior: a first infraction elicits a verbal reprimand, and a second violation incurs a written warning. If the trend continues, the employee could face termination.

Safety is not just a buzzword at the shipyard, said Lance Trotti, vice president of Paul’s Insurance Services, Cenac Marine’s insurance provider. Cenac Marine’s commitment to safety means constantly improving upon systems already in place. Employees always have the most up-to-date PPE, the team responds quickly to safety improvement recommendations, and the company invests in renovations and upgrades to the infrastructure. And the place is spotless to boot! While most people might imagine a shipyard to be littered with oil stains, loose rope, scrap metal, and hoses, Trotti said that’s simply not the case with Cenac Marine. “You can eat your dinner on the floor of the shipyard build room — it’s so clean!”

Cenac Marine’s dedication to safety is rivaled only by its dedication to bettering Louisiana, according to Trotti. Arlen “Benny” Cenac Jr., the third-generation owner of Cenac Marine Services, is committed to hiring Louisiana employees and works to elevate surrounding parishes through eco-friendly operations and support of coastal restoration projects.

The Cenac team continuously strives for the highest caliber of safety, said Ulric Johnson, senior loss prevention consultant for LWCC, making improvements and addressing safety recommendations — sometimes even on the day of LWCC’s visit. It’s this kind of commitment to safety — and to Louisiana — that makes Cenac Marine our first Safest 70 Star.

Lessons learned from this LWCC Safest 70 Star:

  • Encourage employees to be on the lookout for unsafe work conditions while on the job.
  • Make employee health and wellness a top priority.
  • Keep your workplace clean and tidy to reduce hazards.
  • Support your community!
  • Address safety recommendations quickly and efficiently.

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