Safety must be essential factor in all ship operations. Ship owners need to make a profit, but the best way to do that today is by operating safely. The senior management team on the ship needs to put the health, safety, and security of their crew above everything else. To achieve that, safety must be managed effectively.
The ISM Code makes safety management essential. But safety management makes good sense in both human and commercial terms. For all shipping companies, a history of shipping incidents and accidents damages their reputation and leads to the loss of business and further financial consequences.
It may seem that accidents happen at random, but the researches show that there appears to be a relationship between near misses and serious accidents. The more near misses, or hazardous occurrences that happen, the more minor or serious accidents occur. Proper evaluation of a near miss or hazardous occurrence reports and making appropriate changes in procedures will reduce accidents and contribute in managing safety on board.
There are many components to successful safety management and obvious one is good training and familiarization with the company’s safety management systems. Another one is proper maintenance, including making sure that all maintenance is correctly carried out and logged. Motivation and leadership is also vital. If safety matters to the senior officers, everyone on board will notice that; they will then make safety a high priority in their own activities.
This leadership is an essential part of another component – the development of the safety culture. The senior officers must make it clear that they are committed to the company’s safety procedures for it is their attitude to safety that determines the safety culture of the ship.
Finally, there are the safety management procedures themselves – these shall be developed by the shore office in consultation with the shipboard management team based on their experience, risk assessment, and legal requirements. But the shore office’s responsibility does not end with creating good working procedures. They also have a responsibility to employ personnel of a suitable standard both at sea and ashore.
Most important of all, there shall be open communication and trust between the ship and the shore. The Designated Person Ashore under the ISM Code must ensure that everyone ashore and on board works together to manage safety. For safety management systems to be effective, they must be regularly reviewed to ensure continuous improvement.
Standards must be established and then implemented. The progress of this implementation must be followed and measured so compliance can be checked. The situation must be reviewed and changes made if the objectives have not been met.