Safety flashes – a summary of 2019

This is a summary of the safety flash incidents reported in 2019.  All the published safety incidents are available on the IMCA website as individual web pages.  Safety Flashes, comprising a PDF format collection of a number of incidents are circulated to members by email.

134 incidents in 30 safety flashes were published by IMCA during 2019.  The 134 incidents came to IMCA’s attention, or were reported to IMCA, between 10/10/18 and 12/12/19.

Members are reminded that IMCA does not publish all incidents received; the decision whether or not to publish an incident is subjective and editorial in nature.  Moreover, statistically authoritative conclusions about the safety of the marine contracting operations of IMCA members cannot be drawn from analysis of safety flashes.  The most that may be discerned is trends or patterns over time, not necessarily in safety as such, but in safety reporting.

“Other industry bodies” includes, but is not restricted to, the Marine Safety Forum (MSF), the UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB), the US Coast Guard and the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE).  

We continue to encourage all IMCA members to contribute their incidents to the IMCA safety flash system.  This is an important way to influence industry safety awareness by actively taking part.  It is worth reminding members that IMCA will work closely with contributors to ensure the strict anonymity and appropriateness of all published safety flash material.  Nothing is published without clear permission from the contributing member.

Three Rising Trends to Note

  • 16% of incidents reported were near misses or potential incidents; this is up on 9% in 2018. We encourage further reporting of near misses;
  • 14% of incidents involved fires on vessels; this is an increase on 2018 (6%) and is an interesting reporting trend;
  • Incidents involving gangways or personnel transfer (7%); this trend is rising as more incidents are reported by the offshore renewables sector.

Other Factors of Note Include:

  • 7% of incidents reported involved use of the phrase “high potential”; though there is not an agreed IMCA definition of this term; this may be something for the HSSE Core Committee to discuss in 2020;
  • 10% of incidents involved people suffering injuries to hands and fingers;
  • Incidents involving seamanship, mooring or small boats (9%);
  • Incidents involving failure of equipment (7%).

The IOGP Life-Saving Rules

Some of our members have adopted the IOGP Life-Saving Rules; still others intend to do so.  The template for submission of safety flashes has been amended to allow members henceforth to indicate which of the Life-Saving Rules may be most relevant. 

Informal analysis of the incidents received in 2019 shows the following:

Why we don’t publish every incident

This information is repeated from IMCA SF 07/19.  The following criteria may lead to submitted incidents being passed over:

  • The incident involves a serious personal injury which has not been properly captured in the original communique;
  • The incident report has a tendency to either shift responsibility or to apportion blame;
  • The incident report uses safety jargon but fails to identify fundamental and obvious corrective actions;
  • The incident report is too long and complex for a relatively minor incident (an example would be a non-serious slip/trip where the incident report ran to 11 pages);
  • The incident report is too brief for a serious incident (an example would be an incident involving LTIs, dealt with in less than two hundred words, with no discussion of what happened to the injured person);
  • The incident report comes in a form that cannot be rendered into an IMCA safety flash in a timely way – for example, incident reports delivered as a scanned PDF image, or in very difficult to understand English;
  • The incident report contains no photographs, diagrams or images to support and/or explain the text.

Safety flashes exist to raise safety standards and thus to reduce incidents and injuries.  They do this by bringing to the attention of your offshore crews’ issues of critical safety importance and thus enabling lessons to be learned.  It is important, therefore, to guard the impact and appeal of safety flashes.  Just as would any media news publication, we do this by choosing with care what material we do and do not publish.

What matters is that every incident published, and safety flashes as a whole, tell a coherent story.  It is this safety story that delivers lessons learned and the improvements in safety.  It is the safety story that changes attitudes, hearts and minds.

The 2019 Safety Flashes

A full list of the safety flash incidents of 2019 – including those from other organisations which IMCA has passed on to members – is available at https://www.imca-int.com/alerts/downloads/safety-flash/19/