In advance of our AGM last Friday (19th), we held the latest meeting of our Safety Forum on Thursday afternoon. The forum – rescheduled from November – included its usual safety pause, and covered a number of pertinent issues including near miss reporting and accident statistics. It also provided an opportunity to recap on some of the key themes from last year’s events and consider how the programme will look in 2018.
The forum – rescheduled from November – included its usual safety pause, and covered a number of pertinent issues including near miss reporting and accident statistics. It also provided an opportunity to recap on some of the key themes from last year’s events and consider how the programme will look in 2018.
Looking Back at the Key Safety Topics of 2017
Safety Forum Chairman, Kerrie Forster, and NWA Secretary, Mark Ranson, welcomed everyone present and introduced the meeting. We reflected on what we had achieved over the last year. With four safety forums in total – including one Towage-specific forum at Seawork in July and one Offshore Wind-specific forum at the Orbis Centre, Lowestoft, in September – 2017 saw good progress on a number of core safety themes.
Kerrie recapped the key issues covered at the Lowestoft forum, and the actions that have since been taken. One issue that had been raised was how the approach to management of working hours differs between O&M sites and construction sites, where demands and pressure on vessel operators can be greater.
It was reiterated that a ‘minimum hours of rest’, is exactly that – a minimum – and should not be a target to aim for. In order to raise awareness about working hours regulations, a poster campaign was suggested, in conjunction with the G+, MCA and Shipowners P&I club – and discussions are now ongoing with a view to progressing this in 2018.
It was also stressed that there needs to be an effort to further increase awareness and visibility of important guidance, such as the G+ Small Service Vessel guidelines. It is vital that these are seen at all levels, from senior management to those in operational positions.
Going forward into 2018, some slight adjustments were proposed to the schedule of Safety Forum meetings – with three general forums and one offshore-wind specific event – at a regional offshore wind hub – planned for 2018. More details to follow.
Following this recap, we held our regular ‘safety pause’, which provides a valuable opportunity for members to discuss issues pertaining to vessel safety in a closed, confidential forum.
As ever, we were pleased that a number of members took this opportunity to share their recent experiences, with a view to collectively raising standards. Issues raised included technical problems relating to tow line spelter sockets, as well as the various challenges related to alcohol & drugs testing of employees.
Guidance and Statistics
Pending the inclusion of some final additions to the annex on vessel stability, the forum heard that Towage Good Practice Guide should be ready for launch as a second edition early this year. On top of this, the second edition of the G+ Safe Management of Small Service Vessels Used in the Offshore Wind Industry guidance is now available for download.
As we seek to benchmark and demonstrate the commitment of the NWA and its members to improving overall safety standards, the forum discussed ways to more effectively encourage submission of vessel accident statistics. Consequently, we are working on making this as straightforward as possible for members and will be in touch soon with a view to collating statistics for both 2017 and 2016.
Codes and Certification
Mark Ranson provided an update on the progress of the Large Workboat Code. This aims to target the ‘grey area’ in standards for vessels between 200 and 500 tonnes. The working group chaired by MCA has made good progress over the past year and a final draft for wider consultation should be available by May. Then there will be some delay whilst we assist the MCA in preparing the ‘Economic Impact Assessment’ that has to be submitted with it, but, all being well the code should be published before the end of 2018.
Having achieved a verbal agreement of an interim solution to the German Certificates of Competence situation, Mark reiterated that we are awaiting a formal written response from BG Verkehr confirming which certificates will be accepted.
The current state of affairs is that BG Verkehr will still not entertain the Master <200GT Code Vessel, or <500GT Master Workboat certificates. However, they will accept the <500 Tonne Near Coastal ticket, once the MCA have amended the UK definition of ‘Near Coastal’ limits to include the German coast. We will give more details of how CoC holders can gain the <500GT Near Coastal CoC as soon as MCA confirm the details.
A (Mis)leading Indicator of Safety
To round off the forum, we were delighted to welcome back Nippin Anand, a leading expert in maritime safety management and accountability.
Nippin presented his insights into the flaws that exist in the process of so-called ‘near miss’ reporting. He covered how the reporting system can be improved to get a better and more representative set of data from crews.
Some noticeable issues that stop crewmembers reporting near miss incidents were raised: fear of consequences, concerns around job security, and feelings of pride and shame. Although smaller incidents may be regularly reported as a box-ticking exercise, higher-risk issues are often not shared, highlighting problems related to accountability.
Nippin finished the session with advice on how near miss reporting can be improved. Some of the ideas put forward included a mechanism for voluntary reporting with a non-punitive approach. By moving from ‘anonymous’ to ‘confidential’ reporting, operators can enable a shift in mindset and achieve a more representative set of data.
The next Safety Forum is set to take place in March – date, time and location to be confirmed. If you would like further information about this year’s events, or would like to put forward topic ideas, please contact either Mark Ranson: firstname.lastname@example.org or Kerrie Forster: K.Forster@actamarine.com.