Your safety is your responsibility. Take 100% responsibility for your daily actions, which your future self will thank you for
Congratulations, you plunged into sea to become a seafarer and make a fruitful career and support your family. Seafaring is a hazardous job as seafarers work in industrial environment and at sea. You may not have access to medical facilities on shore during deep sea voyages and in port during the pandemic. Companies that are managing ships are responsible to provide and continuously update their safety management system, for the ISM Code certification, without which the vessel cannot trade. Company’s Safety Management System (SMS) on board will have several electronic or hard copy manuals with endless procedures, checklists, and guidance, which are established safeguards against every safety and pollution risks involved in shipboard operations. However, the system will not ensure safety of seafarers, unless the seafarers take 100% responsibility for their own safety and that of their colleagues on board, without any excuses and assumptions, whatsoever.
Think Safe, Work Safe – Your safety is dear to your dear ones
You go to sea to earn your living. It's important that you return safe and sound to your family on completion of your tour of duty. To accomplish this, each one of you on board need to think safe and always work safe. There’s no shortcut to this, and you cannot delegate or over-rely on others including the most experienced colleagues on board and on shore, irrespective of their seniority, ranks and titles. Safety of the seafarers is dependent entirely on the daily actions taken by the seafarers. Take actions sensibly so that your future self will be thankful and grateful to you. Do not act in haste. Deviation from sound seamanship and safe working practices can have disastrous consequences with personal injuries, inability to continue sea career due to partial or total disability
from seafaring, and or fatal accidents on board. When you are injured, disabled, or deceased, your family suffers with/without you. Will you be thankful to you for your hasty actions after an incident affecting your career? Ships that are damaged can be repaired, steel can be renewed, but what about yourself and your colleagues if you are disabled or deceased? Many human beings regret their
actions, after being involved in an accident, and will not take a chance anymore with safety. We don't need to wait for a personal accident and learn from that personal experience. We can be smart to learn from industry accidents, other people’s experiences, other people's mistakes (OPM) rather than waiting to learn from our own adverse experiences. Thinking safe and working safe daily and consistently is the best choice, without any doubt.
Raise concern and stop unsafe practices on board
Companies are responsible to maintaintheir ships. If something isn’t operational, report to the Company and involve the shore-based management, who are mandated by the ISM Code to provide adequate shore-based support for safe ship operations in any market, irrespective of the earnings
and ensure the operational status is restored. If you can repair it on board safely, come up with a repair plan with your team and stick to the plan. Each one of you need to think about the hazards and controls to carry out the operation safely. Remember that no-one will thank you for the undesired consequences of the task, while you will only get a thank you note for the tasks you accomplished well. If unsafe practices are occurring on board or safety of team is being ignored to get the operational tasks completed, you need to raise your concern with the team on board and exercise your authority to stop the work at once and report to the Designated Person Ashore (DPA) of your company. You shouldn’t assume that the unsafe work is expected of you and your company manager or team leader has reviewed the risks and established that the task can be safely completed. They may not even be aware of such unsafe practices and unsafe thinking on board.
Report issues to your company promptly
Master and Chief Engineer are responsible to manage and run the ship with the ship board team, upholding the company’s brand, while the company is responsible for providing adequate shore-based support to resolve the issues as quickly as possible. Company could use your ship issues to provide feedback to their fleet and enhance safety and make continual improvement in operational efficiencies in their entire fleet.Companies can only achieve this by prompt and transparent ship~shore~ship communication. Unless the shore-based management is made aware of the shipboard issues promptly, they won’t be able to render support. Therefore, it’s important for seafarers to report all issues on health, safety, environment, quality, crew performance,
repair and maintenance, stores & spares affecting smooth ship operation to the Company promptly within the day. Seafarers who are not comfortable to report issues and be transparent with the company (for whatever reasons) put their career and their company’s brand at risk.
Complacency and over-confidence can have undesired consequences
Complacency is often defined as a feeling of quiet pleasure or security, often while unaware of some potential danger, defect, or the like, self-satisfaction or smug satisfaction with an existing situation, condition, etc.
In almost every high-profile shippingaccident with human injuries or loss of lives, environmental pollution, or total constructive loss of the ship, we can see that cumulative experience and skills of the seafarers was not lacking on board, but the attitude to safety or the safety culture. Many a times, human beings with lots of experience on the routine tasks tend to become complacent and think that accidents will not happen to me or on my ship, but it happens only to others. Confidence and professional pride in what we do is good for us to get ahead with our tasks. However, we must watch out and be alert against complacency, overconfidence, repetitiveness and focus on risk management for every mundane and routine task we perform as accidents doesn’t give warning.
Over reliance, over confidence, acting on unconfirmed assumptions that company expects me to do this, accidents won’t happen to me, blaming others after an incident is not a choice. However, thinking safe, working safe, taking full responsibility for your own safety and that of your colleagues and acting accordingly is a recipe for a joyful career in shipping. Responsibility is often described us the ability to respond. Use this sensibly and ensure that you and your colleagues are safe. Accidents don’t need to happen with self-motivated seafarers taking responsibility for their safety and actions.
I would love to hear from seafarers, managers, leaders on improving safety at sea and the topics you are interested. Thank you.