I’ve written a few articles on ship safety over the last year, not just on this site, but on gCaptain and in a “soon to be announced” leading professional maritime magazine (I’m sure the anticipation is killing you).
I believe there is a misconception in the maritime industry (or any industrial environment for that matter) when it comes to operational safety and performance. While most people agree that safety takes priority EVERYTIME, there are a few people who suggest an increased safety focus is often at the expense of performance (productivity, downtime, etc.). This is simply not the case.
Without question, the complexity of modern maritime operations (vessel operations, terminal and port operations, shipbuilding, etc.) require a tremendous amount planning to be conducted safely and the industry has developed a variety of “safety tools” to aid professionals in these industries. Work Permits, Energy Isolation Certificates (lock-out tag-outs), Job Safety Analysis (JSAs, Job Hazard Analysis, JSEAs, etc.) and company policies and procedures all play a part in the successful execution of various tasks.
What is often overlooked, however, is the fact that these same “safety tools” can also lead us to improved performance as well!
Work Permits and Energy Isolation Certificates ensure the highest levels of management on board ship, offshore drilling unit or shore-side facility are fully aware of critical operations and equipment isolation that may affect the overall safety of the worksite.
In addition to concerns over safety, the “person in charge” (PIC, Master, facility manager, OIM, etc.) is also tasked with ensuring the operations will not affect the performance of current or future operations unless absolutely necessary (such as the need to perform overdue maintenance on a piece of “critical path” equipment).
Job Safety Analysis and Company Procedures also contribute to improved operational performance and reliability. When the various steps of the job are identified and adequate controls are put in place (to reduce or prevent the hazards from materializing), the job can be completed more efficiently.
Over time, the JSA can be updated to include the “lessons learned” from the previous times the task was performed which increases the efficiency of the task even more. When tasks involve “critical path” equipment (such as a ship’s main propulsion, an energy terminal’s tank farm, or a factory’s conveyor system), well thought out JSA and company procedures will ensure the equipment is back on line as safely and efficiently as possible.
Developing or overhauling a company’s existing Safety Management Systems to align both safety and performance can be a challenging yet value added endeavor. If your company management system is already audited to ISM or SEMS standards, there is a high likelihood that your organization is already there, the challenge then becomes communicating to personnel increased safety and performance really do go hand-in-hand.