‘Below Deck’: Is Long Hair Truly a Hazard for Deckhands?

After deckhand Abbi Murphy from Below Deck was admonished for radio problems again, Captain Lee Rosbach also took issue with her long hair.

He pulled bosun Ashton Pienaar aside to express his concern. “Ashton one thing I wanted to mention,” Rosbach begins. “Have Abbs pull her hair back in a ponytail or something because I can see it getting caught in something.” Murphy has long, flowing hair that she doesn’t often tie back.

Captain Lee Rosbach
Captain Lee Rosbach |Greg Endries/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Pienaar relayed the message to Murphy, explaining it was a safety issue. Murphy took the order in stride. “I never really thought about my hair,” she says in a confessional. “Over the past two years of doing this.” As she passes through the galley kitchen, chef Kevin Dobson asserts her hair almost went into the horseradish sauce. “Suddenly everybody is telling me that the ship is gonna sink because my hair is so big is so ridiculous.”

Loose hair and clothing can be dangerous around equipment

Rosbach isn’t overreacting about Murphy’s hair. Loose hair and clothing may have been responsible for two deadly accidents, according to compliance journal EHS Daily Advisor. A man’s hair and clothing became entangled in an escalator which became fatal. In another instance, a woman’s long hair became entangled in a lathe.

Neither incident was work-related but illustrated the hazards of loose clothing and long hair. EHS Daily Advisor recommends hair should be tied back and employees should avoid wearing loose-fitting clothing. “Workers should not wear loose-fitting clothing, chains, or other loose jewelry around equipment that poses an entanglement hazard. Long hair should be tied back to keep it safely out of danger.”

Yachties share that most deckhands don’t have long hair or even visible tattoos. “If you want to grow towards a higher deck position, you might have to get rid of the tattoos that are too visible… I know, that’s already a bigger step to take…,” one yachtie shared on Yacht Unlimited.com FAQ page. “The same is true for long hair or dreadlocks, you virtually see no deckhands who got them…”

Captains prefer a neat and tidy crew

The Triton polled captains about crew appearance. One captain said, “My self-expression is a clean-cut, successful individual compatible with the same type of people.”

Another captain pointed out the safety hazard that piercings, long hair and excessively jewelry can pose. “I have had to work with those who had necklaces, rings, facial hair, long hair, and it usually did not go well. In emergency situations, where a mask needs a seal, it won’t work. Jewelry results in damaged fingers, ears and more.”

Overall, captains wanted their crew looking neat and tidy for other reasons. “At the time, I thought it was pretty tough, but now as captain I want my crew looking sharp,” one captain shared. “We average more than 25 percent tips on all our charters. This rate is about as high as the industry goes, and this high tip rate is part of the payoff for keeping strict rules for all crew. If we go lax on our crew, it will affect my tips and that really makes it personal.”