Talking with the seafarers gives us valuable knowledge

Over the years Green-Jakobsen has carried out a number of Safety Maturity Assessments. Through these assignments we have interviewed over 1800 seafarers plus a large number of office staff. Each interview takes around an hour. Hence, through these many hours of talks we have gained a lot of knowledge about how safe people feel at work and how they perceive safety performance.

Safety performance is often evaluated from the outside, audits, inspections, etc., which is OK, but cannot stand alone. Furthermore, we tend to focus on the results. Fortunately, the result is mostly that we did not have any incidents or accidents, and therefore we must be safe; we train our crew through a lot of courses etc., so we must be safe.

Empowerment of the seafarers

Mr. Erik Green participated in the Safety Culture panel  in the Safety4Sea conference in Athens recently with a presentation titled ‘Measuring real safety performance’.

One of his points is that we should look more on the process and rely much more on the people who are actually doing the job and keep our focus on what went well and what went wrong.

Credit: Green-Jacobsen

In other words, the safety “life style” on board is what we have to look at if we are to measure how safe we are. Of course we should always also learn from incidents, but wouldn’t it be much better if we learn before the incident happens?

This brings us back to what happens among the seafarers who are doing the jobs on board. Do they have a proper and useful dialogue about what and how they operate – before, during and after? Is the atmosphere on board beneficial for the well-being and job satisfaction for the crew? Do the leaders give clear direction and instruction? Is the work environment taken into consideration when tasks are planned and executed?

All these questions – and more, and the answers to them would give a more precise indication of the safety on board. Instead of only assessing the safety from the outside we have to give the seafarers a chance to discuss, collaborate and reflect to a much higher degree and we must help them address the factors that are important for the safety life style on board.

Go beyond TMSA requirements – learn before the incident happens

This actually takes the measurement of safety to a higher level than what is required through the TMSA. The tool that provides the help to shipping companies to handle such measurement and consequently more dialogue and development of the seafarers’ capacity is called Safety Delta. Erik Green’s presentation gives you the background for the development of this tool, and explains why it makes a good alternative to the traditional way of measuring safety.

Moreover, Safety Delta helps shipping companies manage the challenge of developing a proactive safety culture – to learn before the incident happens.

Safety Delta – a 3-step process towards a stronger safety culture

The Safety Delta is a 3-step process (Diagnosis, Dialogue and Development), a concept that supports a paradigm change from an engineering approach towards a safety culture based on continuous crew evaluation, dialogue, reflection and development.

The three steps comprise:

  • Crew makes a Diagnosis of the vessel’s safety condition by answering a safety survey;
  • Dialogue on board and ashore about the report results and improvement opportunities;
  • Specific Development actions are defined, planned and executed on board.

Hence, our goal was to try to meet some of the challenges we saw in the industry:

Our first challenge: Measure

– How can we measure crew safety performance?

Without measuring performance (evaluation) it cannot be developed. Safety Delta introduces the measurement parameter, Safety Condition Indicator, and provides a starting point for a structured assessment of the on board safety performance. Safety Condition Indicators are presented in the Crew Safety Diagnosis (CSD).

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The Crew Safety Diagnosis offers an overview of the perceived on board safety conditions and performance. It analyses five safety performance areas and evaluates five critical safety behaviours. It contains a written feedback and provides recommendations allowing the crew to make quick and proactive adjustments before it is too late.

Second challenge: Stimulate Dialogue

– How can we stimulate the crew’s ability to discuss own safety performance?

The only persons who truly experience the safety performance on board are the crew members involved in the daily tasks. These crew members are also the persons who should make corrections or changes, if needed. Lack of crew reflection, evaluation and awareness of the present on board safety conditions are the strongest safety barriers that exist. On the basis of the Crew Safety Diagnosis report and the developed dialogue tool an intelligent dialogue about the true on board safety performance is stimulated. The goal is to decide upon a Safety Delta Development Plan.

Third challenge: Develop

– How can we ensure continuous development of our safety performance?

Having run the Diagnosis and Dialogue stages it is now time for the crew on board to identify safety performance areas to improve, develop or adjust. The Safety Delta Development process is supported by the safety Delta Learning Library providing shipping companies with a large range of materials, inspiration and best practices. In extension hereof on board training processes have been pre-prepared helping ship crews carry out the decided changes.

 

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of SAFETY4SEA and are for information sharing and discussion purposes only.

Above article has been initially published on Green-Jakobsen website and is reproduced here with author’s kind permission.


Erik Green is one of the founders of Green-Jakobsen in 2001. He graduated as a Naval Architect in 1990 and has a master’s degree in organisational learning and development. Within the maritime segment Erik’s expertise mostly relates to the development of corporate and individual safety culture (competencies), marine HR and leadership development. As a strategic business consultant with more than 20 years of experience Erik is specialised in helping companies develop both at a strategic, tactical and operational level. His professional competence covers marine HR and safety projects involving both employees and employers and he is an experienced project manager, subject matter expert, strategic executive coach and as a strategic business consultant. Furthermore, Erik is continuously engaged in the development of Green-Jakobsen’s own leadership training concept, and safety maturity development concept and methods.