Marina Planning and Managerial Programs

IMG_7429Effective operation and care of a marina depends on the implementation of a diverse number of planning documents and procedures that are best developed in advance of an incident or issue that actually requires their guidance.

Establishment of thoughtful planning and managerial programs can greatly improve safety, lower operating costs and mitigate liability for a marina. Many marina administrative programs and procedures are required to meet regulatory requirements and having them in place can prevent a costly fine.

This is an annotated list of policies, plans and procedures you should consider implementing at your marina or small craft harbor. Don’t allow the list to overwhelm you. Prioritize the needs of your facility and take these planning documents on, one at a time. Certainly, Pacific Harbor Advisors would be glad to assist you in the development of these programs and procedures.

  • Employee Handbook and Personnel Policy: Failure to comply with employment law can be costly to a marina. A good employee handbook will improve your management relations with staff and help prevent unnecessary litigation. Items to consider include job descriptions, compensation plans, drug and alcohol use policies, internet usage, benefits, conduct and workplace safety.
  • Workplace Safety: Employers are required to provide for the safety of employees and there are many OSHA mandated programs and practices that need to be in place at a marina. Some of these hazard communications, material safety data sheets, lifejacket use, hearing and respiratory protection, lockout/tagout and fall protection. Marina employees need to keep themselves safe and also need to lookout for their customers or visitors. Staff needs to be familiar with water and boating safety, first-aid and emergency response.
  • Facility Safety and Incident Response: An effective incident management plan is actually a set of specific sub-plans that focus on individual areas of concern. A marina should establish, implement and train to these plans. Some examples of plans that should be considered for adoption by a marina address fires, boatyard policy, electrical equipment use, sinking boats, medical emergencies, person in the water, domestic/workplace violence, maritime security, robbery, natural disasters and severe weather.
  • Environmental Responsibility: Marinas have a obligation to be environmentally responsible and a facility that does not address these timely issues will soon be out of business. Adoption of sound environmental policy can greatly benefit a marina in its relations with the community and natural resource management agencies. Some programs that should be considered include clean marina certification, oil spill response, best management practices (BMPs), Spill, Prevention, Control and Countermeasure Plans (SPCC) for facilities that collect or handle fuel and oil, stormwater management, and ongoing compliance with facility permits.
  • Marina Operations Manual: One of the most important things a harbor manager can do is compile a customized, written operations manual. A written reference is essential in many ways. Staff and management need access to clear instructions for business procedures, emergency procedures, and personnel rules. Documentation is key in the defense of lawsuits. A good operations manual provides continuity and helps staff to bridge knowledge gaps caused by absences of key personnel, or the infrequent occurrence of emergency events.
  • Employee Training: Your staff represents the marina to the public and is the group that gets things done everyday. The more employees know about the operation and care of a facility, the better they are able to make it a success. An employee development or training program is an investment in your staff and marina. Staff should be trained in subjects such as boating safety, first-aid, facility maintenance, hazardous materials response, business management and critical incident response.

This listing is just one broad example of planning and program efforts that should be considered by a marina. Each facility is unique and many jurisdictions impose their own requirements. It’s not too soon to start planning to develop a set of plans and procedures to support the operation and maintenance of your marina.