Allan Raymund Olano:

In the last four years, GREEN-JAKOBSEN has interviewed about 1,800 seafarers including shore managers. Each interview lasts for about 1.5 to 2 hours. And that’s approximately 3,000 hours of interviewing seafarers. It provides us with unique experiences and insights into what’s going on board and in shore management.

GREEN-JAKOBSEN has been doing safety performance and learning and development projects with clients around the world. We have been facilitating maritime safety and leadership trainings in China, Philippines, India, and even in South American and European countries.

How do we measure safety performance?

Every time I ask this question, I hear this popular answer, which is LTI (Lost Time Incident). In assessing safety culture on board, we may consider lagging and leading indicators.

Lagging indicators are backward-looking indicators which measure results from the past like LTI or number of accidents. Meanwhile, leading indicators are forward-looking or proactive indicators which measure the things that we are doing well and the things that we are doing poorly, both may contribute to future safety performance. A specific example of a leading indicator would be the forward projection of the radar which indicates targets ahead that may pose risk of collision. Other leading indicator examples are the number of safety audits carried out, the quality and quantity of safety trainings we do on board, and even crew perception surveys.


The challenge with lagging indicators is that they only indicate past accidents statistics. When we see a low injury rate, our tendency is to become complacent. Having a low LTI does not guarantee a zero accident tomorrow. It only measures failure.

Using leading indicators is a proactive measure. It focuses on continuous improvement and it tells you on a regular basis what we are doing right, as well as what we are doing poorly. It measures future safety performance.

Can we find better ways of measuring safety performance apart from LTI?

Nowadays, when we want to assess the safety performance on board our ships, we send our safety auditors, we even hire external ones. They visit the vessel; they inspect the engine, deck, accommodation spaces and the bridge. They also check the records and interview some of the crew. At the end of the day, they will make a report. Their report somehow represents an incomplete picture of our safety culture which was based on their limited time and partial experience on board.

Who can better evaluate our safety performance?

I believe that the best people to evaluate our safety performance on board are the very ones who are doing the job. And they are the crew who do the job 24/7 on board the ship, aren’t they? Why can’t we delegate the evaluation to them? I am not saying that it is wrong to send auditors on board, we still have to do that. But doing that alone is like assessing our safety performance only from the outside. But if we engage our own men, we can further improve our safety culture on board.

If we want to improve our safety culture on board, we need something that is proactive and that involves the crew in the process.

This can be compared when you want to improve your health, you may go to a doctor. In the process, the doctor will ask you several questions like:

‘How much sleep do you have?’

‘How is your diet?’

‘Do you drink alcohol? How much and how often?’

‘Do you exercise?’

After you answer such questions, he may tell you, ‘If you don’t change your ways, you will run into trouble.’

In the same way, if we want to improve our safety culture on board, what do we need to do? We need something that is proactive, we have to know what we do right and the things we do poorly. We don’t have to wait for an accident to happen before we do something. Rather than just reacting and implementing new training or new procedures after somebody got hurt, I think we have to complement it with something that is proactive and engaging. In fact, the more we engage the crew, the more they become resilient.

Safety Delta Surveys

In the last three years, we have a system that we call the Safety Delta. Through this process, crew carry out safety surveys on board. So far, about 535 surveys have been completed, with 10,551 survey respondents. We have gathered the survey results in the last three years as reflected below:

In reference to the above, senior officers, junior officers and ratings, all agree that there is a weakness on the Safety Area - leaders’ ability to give clear direction and safety. This may be interpreted as ‘If we change the captain and/or the chief engineer, then the safety level changes’.

More interestingly, when it comes to crew’s experience of time pressure on the job, the senior officers are more positive, but the junior officers and ratings think otherwise. Under the cultivator, preparation of the risk management, the perception has a wide gap. This can be somehow compared to our safety maturity assessment interviews. When we ask, ‘do you do risk assessments?’, senior officers usually say, ‘yes, we do it every time’. However, junior officers and ratings often tell us ‘yes, we do risk assessments, but sometimes we just sign it without understanding it’ or ‘sometimes we do the risk assessments after the job is completed.’ Clearly, there is a class between the quality and the quantity on how they do things on board.

And to a lesser extent, there is also a significant perception gap between officers and ratings when it comes to safety reporting culture on board.

The good thing about this report is that we are able to identify areas for improvement apart from significant perception gaps between officers and ratings. It also gives us the opportunity to plan for improvement and development. We don’t have to wait for an accident to happen because we will have something to start with on how we are going to improve our safety culture.

There are two points we would like to highlight here. We need something that is PROACTIVE and ENGAGING, enabling our crew to take an active part in assessing our safety performance. Remember we cannot truly achieve an ideal safety culture if there is no crew involvement. And when there is no involvement, there is no commitment.

Above text is an edited version of Allan Raymund Olano's presentation during the 2019 SAFETY4SEA Singapore Forum.

You may view his presentation herebelow


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.

Allan Raymond Olano, General Manager and Consultant, Green Jakobsen A/S

Allan Olano is the General manager of Green-Jakobsen’s Philippine office where he manages the day-to-day operation besides being involved in training and course development. He has vast experience in providing leadership and soft skill courses and safety & health training for seafarers. Allan is a licensed Master Mariner and has been back at sea recently working for an Australian shipping company. He spent his sea life working mostly on dry cargo vessels like containers ships, RoRo, bulk carriers from Cape size vessels to self-unloading ships and an Ore-Oil carrier. Allan has been associated with Green-Jakobsen for more than 15 years.