While the voting procedure for the 2018 SAFETY4SEA Awards is open, Theophanis Theophanous, Managing Director, BSM Hellas discusses about the company’s focus on the safety, environmental and social responsibility, which lies at the background of the company’s nomination at the ‘Dry Bulk Operator’ category alongside other distinguished nominees. With this respect, Mr. Theophanous shares best practice on safety enhancement onboard, noting that a truly effective safety culture requires a shipping company to encourage its personnel to make safety and environmental awareness their highest priorities.
SAFETY4SEA: Your organization has been shortlisted for the 2018 SAFETY4SEA Awards in the ‘Dry Bulk Operator’ category alongside a number of other distinguished nominees. What is the background and the key drivers behind this nomination/shortlisting?
Theophanis Theophanous: One of the core values of Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM) is “Responsibility: Ensuring safety at sea, protecting the environment, and being socially responsible”. This provides the focus for each BSM employee both onboard our managed fleet or ashore in our network of offices, to strategically plan, make decisions and drive their daily activities towards safe operations, being socially responsible and achieving environmental sustainability. BSM is also in the fortunate position to be able to draw upon our heritage of 130 years as a shipowner, as well as the global reach of our office network and human resources to ensure that we have the capability to deliver the highest quality of services in any challenging situation.
S4S: When it comes to tackling the safety challenges around the shipping sector, what are the key priorities on your agenda?
TT: BSM is intent on being an active industry participant and pushing forward market developments within the global maritime industry, as well as extending an opinion on crucial market issues that affect daily safe shipping operations. Through various Industry Association Memberships and close co-operation with Classification Societies plus Flag Registrations and by taking part in maritime industry annual congresses, panel discussions, conferences, meetings and events, BSM shares the knowledge of our in-house experts in an effort to uphold safety as a focus within the industry in which we work. This interaction also provides us with the chance to keep informed about issues of current importance and updated about the opinions of our extended market colleagues, based on which we can ensure that BSM is always prepared in advance of any expected change as well as fuelling our innovative drive.
S4S: Which best practices would you recommend from your perspective to enhance safety performance onboard and ashore?
TT: Strong communication forms the foundation of safe vessel operations, keeping information flowing ensures that work processes are optimised and assists with control. Use of technology allows instantaneous access to data, providing clarity for smooth co-operation from ship to shore, safeguarding crew morale, welfare and resultant safer operations. Implementation of a structured integrated training programme for life-long learning is also ideal in developing and retaining skilled seafarers because a vessel is undoubtedly only as good as the crew who sail on her. Maintaining ships in the desired condition to achieve good results, as well as ensuring a safe and pleasant working environment is the responsibility of the our leading crew members. BSM therefore believe in enhancing the ‘soft skills’ of our Masters and Chief Engineers, who are expected to achieve a careful balance between strict operational duties and being managers exercising command skilfully and with due diligence. As leaders, they are the role models who must actively inspire crew to perform their duties ensuring both vessel and personal safety along with an environmental conscience.
S4S: Do you have any new projects on the pipeline and/or plans, related with your safety performance that you would like to share with the industry ?
TT: BSM uses a variety of initiatives to drive innovation in our work place especially relating to safety throughout our services and advancement of our policies and procedures with this always in mind.
For example BSM’s Project Pilot, a restructuring/reformatting of BSM manuals based on the example of the aviation industry. Following this approach, almost all BSM operational manuals are now in a handy carry size booklet with a standardised structure of action, objective, result and with a close out checklist. The end result being efficiency, safety, clear, easy to understand and accessible information.
Another current focus for BSM is digitalisation, which provides faster centralised data access and work processes. This has significantly reduced the possibility of human error as well as further improving transparency of vessel information, from ship to shore and concurrently with our customers. We certainly hope that this revolutionary mindset will help us to strengthen the shipmanagement activities of BSM even further in the years ahead.
S4S: What is your key message for enhancing safety culture onboard?
TT: For a safety culture to be truly effective, a shipping company must encourage and motivate its personnel to make safety and environmental awareness their highest priorities. Such must be the effort that safety consideration becomes instilled as part of people’s each and every decision until it is instinctive. Since protection of oneself and self-preservation is an inherent human characteristic, it goes without saying that safety culture should not be too difficult to adopt. It needs however continuous education, training, commitment and accountability of all shipping individuals. A key aim and priority therefore of a safety culture should be to modify the behaviour, where required, of company personnel so that they ‘believe in safety, think safely and are committed to safety’.
You may cast your vote for BSM Hellas at 2018 SAFETY4SEA Awards dedicated webpage till 7th of September 2018!
The views presented hereabove are only those of the author and not necessarily those of SAFETY4SEA and are for information sharing and discussion purposes only.
About Theophanis Theophanous
Mr. Theophanous has been in the shipping industry for over 30 years, he is a graduate of the Merchant Marine Academy of Hydra, Greece and started his career as a seafarer eventually obtaining Master’s rank. His personal sailing experience within the Merchant Marine sector ranges across a variety of ship types including bulk carriers, VLCC oil tankers as well as Loading Master in Cyprus for BP and Shell cargoes.
After taking the decision to start his shore-based career and prior to his role as Managing Director of BSM Hellas, Theophanis joined the BSM Cyprus Fleet Personnel team where he stayed for 16 years, eight of which he fulfilled the role of Fleet Personnel Manager.
Although still acting as Fleet Personnel Manager in Cyprus, Mr. Theophanous participated in the introduction and establishment of the BSM Hellas office which was founded in May 2005 when BSM decided to expand to the prominent Greek shipping community. Theophanis Theophanous, took office as the Managing Director of BSM Hellas in 2008.
Whilst BSM Hellas is one of the Company’s youngest Ship Management Centres, it has grown from strength to strength during its 13 years of operation and expanded the fleet under management to include all types of vessels, including dry cargo ships, oil, chemical and gas tankers as well as LNG vessels.