Offer the employee something in exchange for signing the release, along the following lines: "You'll be entitled to one week's severance pay, Mary, but if you sign this release form, I'll be happy to extend that to three weeks. Talk it over with your attorney if you like, and let me know what you decide to do." You cannot force an employee to sign a release, but you can give them a strong incentive to do so. Also, giving the employee the chance to talk to their attorney demonstrates that you're not worried about being sued.
So if a crew member falls overboard and everything looks OK—don’t be too sure. Sometimes the most common indication that someone is drowning is that they don’t look like they’re drowning. They may just look like they are treading water and looking up at the deck. One way to be sure? Ask them, “Are you all right?” If they can answer at all—they probably are. If they return a blank stare, you may have less than 30 seconds to get to them. And parents—children playing in the water make noise. When they get quiet, you get to them and find out why.