Over the last few decades, significant improvements have been made to the structure, function and reliability of boats and ships. Emerging technologies have made them more efficient, as well as safer to operate, however, despite the maritime industry’s continuing growth and evolution in response to economic and technological trends, the incident of maritime casualties is still surprisingly high. This is largely because the maritime industry is more than just about ship structure and reliability – it is about the people that operate within this domain and the human errors that feature significantly in this dynamic sector.
Those operating in the maritime industry face a number of challenges and hardships, with employees pushed to the limit of their abilities in severe weather conditions, working long and irregular hours, facing long periods away from home, and high work demands. All this pressure can sometimes lead to hasty decision making, poorly executed action (or inaction), a temporary lapse of judgement, or more serious matters such as cutting corners to save costs, time, or effort.
The main issues confronting seafarers are fatigue, poor communication and inadequate coordination between Master and crew, as well as a lack of technical knowledge. Managing these factors and reducing the risk of injury or accident is highly necessary, especially as stricter marine regulations and safety and environmental laws come into force each new year.
When dealing with insurance claims, those that evaluate the risk and exposure of potential clients -Insurance underwriters – report that in a majority of hull and liability claims, many incidents are caused by unprepared clients or those unable to make sound decisions regarding the safety of their vessels. Seafarers that operate within a high standard, and regularly monitor and update their safety programs, while carefully considering human error as a large component of risk, are able to dramatically save costs on insurance, due to the lower frequency and severity of insurance claims.
Safety management needs to focus, not only on risk management priorities such as equipment maintenance and updates, but it also needs to consider the various types of human errors that can occur which cause these casualties.
Taking into account aspects such as, recruiting a good team, improving emergency preparedness, cultivating a culture of safety and awareness, and providing adequate training for operational procedures and incident management, can allow vessel operators to manage risk and insurance costs.
Vessel Operators who are dedicated to a culture of safety tend to follow these key principles:
- Carry out routine communications and meetings with all crew;
- Establish, monitor and regularly update a formal, written safety program;
- Conduct staff performance appraisals regularly, including evaluating crew competencies such as fitness, credentials and ensuring all licencing is up-to-date;
- Establish an operations manual that clearly outlines the roles and responsibilities of all those aboard, as well as a set of procedures and checklists to be followed;
- Implement a formal vessel maintenance program, with clearly established record keeping and an internal review process;
- Keep up-to-date with current trends contributing to marine accidents and incidents;
- Undertake periodic fire and evacuation drills and simulations to prepare for worst-case scenarios;
- Establish a Safety Management System in order to manage the safety elements in the workplace so as to reduce risk to an acceptable level;
An effective safety management system allows vessel operators to be more compliant with regulations and legal requirements and to assist them to minimise injuries and occupational illness in the workplace. Businesses that take the time and energy to implement and update safety management programs, are not only able to save money on administration costs, insurance and liability costs, but it also creates an enhanced image within your company for workers, the general public clients and stakeholders.
Most vessel operators are familiar with formal safety and operational programs through requirements set by regulatory agencies, auditors and safety management systems. If vessel operators are not familiar or only beginning to make their operations more formal, they can begin by contacting Ocean Time Marine.(email@example.com) to begin by completing an initial consultation before moving forward on developing or enhancing the SMS.
It’s never too late to get started on making your workplace a safer environment. Good safety management starts from the top and filters its way down. Start today with a safety management template.