Guest blog: John Fitzmaurice

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John will be speaking at the UK Chamber of Shipping's Safety Culture Conference later this month focusing on the important work Seatruck have done to embed a robust safety culture across the organisation. Below John gives us a sneak peak at some of what he will be talking about. 

To find out more about the Safety Conference, including how to book your place click here

A safety culture can often be determined by that of the organisation’s behaviour in how they do or don’t do things and in very blunt terms what an organisation chooses to ignore. 

Safety management and the varying techniques to implement safety effectively have evolved rapidly over recent years with more emphasis being placed on engagement and collaboration and involvement with those that are completing the hazardous tasks and therefore most likely to be at risk to be involved in an incident.  Who better to help identify the risks of an activity and review the effectiveness of the control measures than those that are doing the job.

Whether it be through working groups, risk assessment reviews or safety committee meetings the buy in and feeling of involvement in the decision-making process at all levels of the organisation will go some way to enhancing the safety culture of an organisation.  

Another huge determining factor of a safety culture also stems from the eyes and ears of the shopfloor who will often be managing safety along with operational demands.  This will often fall onto the shoulders of the insufficiently trained supervisor or team leader or equivalent that may not fully know how to instruct, deal with confrontation, or manage personnel correctly.  The frontline management, if properly trained, selected, engaged and supported can make or break the safety culture.  

At Seatruck we have recently had to go back and review our procedure for loading vehicles on to our vessels.  This is in itself was a challenge to move away from the long-drawn-out procedures to a more process map approach so that the information we where producing would be smarter, leaner and in essence easier to understand and implement. 

The process is still in its infancy, but real efforts have been made to liaise with and listen to those that would be putting the new controls and directions into practice.  If the operators did not feel the new process was safe or would not work, then it was back to the drawing board to go again.  A safety management system, policy and its processes can dramatically influence a safety culture if the stakeholders are involved in its formulation and on-going review.  Nobody should come to work and not feel the empowerment to challenge nor that they will be listened to.  We all need to be safe and we need to be seen.