“Safety is not about writing more rules, procedures and guidance; it is the belief that safety is in our hearts and minds in everything we do, from the planning stage through until work is complete,” asserts John Rose, director of the UK Confidential Reporting Programme for Aviation and Marine (CHIRP). In the latest issue of CHIRP feedback, Rose addresses the concern for the urgent need to adopt a good safety culture on board, across all of the maritime industry. “Within minutes of walk on board [a vessel] a visitor or inspector will get a feel for the efficiency and quality of operations: the biggest influence is visible safety culture on board.”

Rose’s words have particular gravitas for the superyacht industry, which survives on the successful welcoming of visitors or guests on board, and must match, if not exceed, the safety practices elsewhere in the maritime world. “A good safety culture includes the adoption of an attitude to look out for each other in all matters of safety and the use of safety equipment,” advises Rose. “Mentoring of staff is a good practice but it is not just for the young people joining [a vessel]: there are many that have qualifications but are new to the working environment on board and they will all benefit from the advice of those working around them."

“Within minutes of walk on board [a vessel] a visitor or inspector will get a feel for the efficiency and quality of operations: the biggest influence is visible safety culture on board.”

Of particular concern to CHIRP is the increasing number of reports they are receiving where there has been an enhanced risk of danger due to seafarers taking short cuts and violating procedures. “A strong safety culture on board is one where such behaviours are treated as unacceptable and this safety culture is clearly seen during the planning and completion of all work,” explains Rose. “Emphasis should be placed on the use of toolbox talks and to adopting an attitude amongst fellow crewmembers of ‘being your brother’s keeper’ or ‘adopt a buddy’ i.e. looking out for each other in matters of safety and use of safety equipment and mentoring of other [crew], in particular those new to the working environment on board.”

Issue 38 of CHIRP feedback discusses the following extracts of reports received relating to hazardous incidents, revealing the nature of allowing a weak safety culture to exist without challenge:

Report 1: A [crewmember] was painting a high point at the bridge deck using a portable ladder that was not properly secured. The OOW observed the practice and did not warn the [crewmember]. Due to the movement of the ladder the [crewmember] fell but luckily was not injured.

CHIRP comments: "Failure to follow Company’s Work Permit System (Working Aloft); the supervisor bosun failed to provide safety instructions for the work; OOW failed to stop the [crewmember] when he observed the unsafe condition."

Report 2:
[Crewmember] was working aloft marking the lifeboat’s name without wearing a safety harness. The bosun was in attendance and the company’s ‘work aloft’ procedures were not being implemented.

CHIRP comments:
"It is important that the supervisor always includes safety instructions when issuing work instructions."

The latest issue of CHIRP feedback can be read in full here, with further extracts that exemplify instances of a poor safety culture on board.

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