In any business or organisation, things don’t always go to plan. Dealing with the unexpected events and putting measures in places to prevent them occurring again are imperative to health, safety and future working practises.
Regardless of job role, almost every career in the maritime field comes with inherent dangers. According to the Maritime Journal (2017), it is estimated that between 75- 96% of all marine accidents can be attributed to human error. These failures or accidents can be attributed to a variety of causes. Some of the most common causes of accidents are:
- Improper Training
- Improper use of tools/ Manual Handling
Incidents should be reported in accordance with legislative and company requirements to the appropriate persons and concurrent reporting structures. If recorded properly, the information can be utilised as a means of enabling appropriate investigation and corrective actions to be implemented. This will prevent or reduce the probability of this type of event happening again. This method of reporting after an incident has taken place can be seen as counter-productive as the person is already injured or the asset damaged; it is a reactive approach.
The reactive safety management approach to safety culture is about dealing with incidents as they occur, and putting things right after a failure of some kind. The other end of the spectrum is the proactive approach to safety culture.
Proactive safety management is all about keeping ahead of the game and ensuring measurements are put into place to reduce the risk of potential hazards or incidents from happening. A few examples of proactive safety management are:
- Checking & reviewing procedures
- On-going training
- Near miss reporting
Near miss reporting is especially important to working safety culture. A Near miss is an unplanned event that did not result in an injury or damage, but it had the potential to do so. They are still classed as an ‘incident’, but they are a preamble to and have the potential of becoming an ‘accident’. An example of a near miss could be something like a spilled liquid on the floor that has not been cleaned up. The risk is that someone could slip and injure themselves on it. Immediate actions would be to clean the spilled liquid up and to place a wet floor sign there. Preventative actions would be to inform persons to clean any spilled liquids up after themselves, highlighting the risks and potential dangers.
What is the importance of reporting Near-misses? Identifying and investigating near misses is a key element to finding and controlling risks before accidents occur. The information gathered can be utilised in hazard mitigation and root cause analysis, thus enabling a better safe working environment via preventative measures and education.
Although both reactive and proactive reporting are both necessities in safety culture, a system that is more inclined to proactive reporting is more beneficial for Safety Management and overall costs.
Bibby as a company actively encourages ‘Hazard Hunts’. Hazard hunts encourage the crew to critically think about their working environment. This increases the reporting of near miss incidents on board all of our barges. We utilise SOC’s (Safety Observation Cards) for the purpose of near-miss incident reporting. From the information gathered from the SOC’s we can analyse and share learnings to other crews and personnel within the company. If there are any further corrective actions, we can implement them and monitor the outcomes. We also encourage SOC’s to be utilised for good working behaviours to reinforce the practises and share good examples.
We are always striving to improve our safe working culture within Bibby. We look forward to what next month brings.