Combating the "Blind" Seafarer

File photo of a seafarer

By Wendy Laursen 2015-09-07 05:32:43

The latest edition of Maritime FEEDBACK has been released with concern expressed over the “blind” seafarer and the inability of some companies to reply to a letter or more likely a near miss report generated through their own safety management system. 

The publication by The U.K. Confidential Reporting Programme for Aviation and Maritime (CHIRP) has comments and opinions from Captain John Rose Director (Maritime) CHIRP:

“We always encourage ship owners and managers to realize the full potential value of their own company near miss and hazardous incident reporting system.

“I read a recent report where the Bosun found four broken ‘U’ bolts on the cable pipe rack running along the main deck. The broken parts had been covered with paint indicating the ‘U’ bolts had been broken for a long time. The fixings have a purpose but those responsible for maintenance were more interested in the cosmetic appearance, rather than being concerned about what could have happened when heavy seas landed on the main deck, thereby creating uncontrolled movement and damage to the pipe and cables. 

“Every day there are many eyes looking at the ship’s equipment and yet many are blind to what is around them. Why is reporting these failures not considered important, or is it sadly considered to be just another paperwork chore?

“Ship managers often remind the crew that it is of high importance to report defects, malfunctions, unsafe work practices, or substandard conditions of equipment. These can often be just words without commitment and encouragement, as there is already too much paperwork required to be sent from the ships. 

“So let’s stop pointing the finger at seafarers and saying they should do more. Instead, let’s encourage them to report near misses, or “learning events,” and why not try the simplest of reward schemes onboard, such as a free phone card each month for the person that has the largest number of learning events recorded and accepted as valid? 

“For those managers whose performance is driven by accountants, experience shows that up to five percent of learning events will result in saving the owner money. Also, and as a consequence, shipboard safety meetings will have more interesting and relevant subjects to discuss. It is important to remember that every learning event deserves a reply. Very few people write a letter without expecting a response from the addressee, so safety managers need to look at their own performance.”

The edition also has articles on the safety lessons learned from reports on:

•    Safety equipment when working overside - lifejackets and safety harnesses - a good or bad idea?
•    Use of a non-tested wire sling
•    Lifeboats - maintenance and equipment.
•    Maintenance and training on Free fall lifeboats - is the system safe? 
•    Information overload for the Master when entering a dock.
•    'Down below' , they still have plenty of risks to look out for:
        - Cleaning moving machinery and then self closing valves wired open
        - Incinerator door security system
        - Main engine not starting!

We all need to eat so don't miss the "Tales from the galley". There are some useful lessons learned during MARPOL drills. Can you remember how to do resuscitation? One Master had a surprise when he asked this question.  

As always the success of the CHIRP program is directly related to the number of reports we receive - we need to receive more from you kind people out there, says Rose.

“Please use our online reporting program. The report is encrypted and strictly confidential.

“The Ambassadors supporting the CHIRP and The Nautical Institute MARS scheme are making inroads in new countries as we strive to make CHIRP Maritime a truly international organization for the benefit of all seafarers around the world. We are still seeking volunteers from the Middle Eastern countries, India and Singapore.” 

If you are interested in being considered for one of these roles, there are still vacancies, please contact john.rose@chirp.co.uk.

CHIRP is a Charitable Trust that survives only by the generosity of our sponsors, says Rose. “To expand the program and enable a truly global reach, we are seeking additional sponsors to help us achieve our mission to send all seafarers safely home to their loved ones at the end of their trip.”

The full report is available here.

The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.