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Safety Corner – December 2021

Greetings as the year draws to a close. These are strange times we live in. This year has been nothing like last year, and next year will be nothing like this year. To 2019, there is no returning: that’s the first lesson we all need to take on board. There is no “new normal”. Pandora’s box has no lid.  

In September took place the first meeting of the newly elected IMCA Health, Safety, Security and Environment Core Committee. Darren Male of Fugro stepped up to take on the role of Chair, and Jim Knight of Heerema Marine Contractors, who had been Vice-Chair, agreed to remain Vice-Chair. We also took the opportunity afforded by the IMCA Constitution to co-opt several more safety professionals onto the committee, to assist in getting the job done.  

In recent months, collaboration with other organisations has been a key focus. Through the work of Bruce Gresham in the USA and Andy Goldsmith here in UK, looking after renewables, we have an introduction to meetings of the Safety Work Group of the American Clean Power Association. We have been in discussions with the Workboat Association on matters relating to safety reporting – safety statistics and safety flashes. In November I was at the AGM of CHIRP – a charity allowing confidential incident reporting. I am a member of the Maritime Advisory Board of CHIRP, which meets quarterly to discuss some of the reports submitted by seafarers around the world. Another continuing area of collaboration is with IOGP – the International oil and gas producers association, an organisation which, even in these days of the growing importance of renewable energy, still represents the majority of our members’ clients. IMCA is fully onboard, supportive, and committed to making a difference through collaboration with IOGP, as we have already done with the IDIF (International Diving Industry Forum) and adoption of the IOGP Life-Saving Rules.   

IOGP has pulled together a number of trade organisations to take a closer look at human performance – or human factors; this started with a summit meeting of senior executives earlier this year. IMCA CEO Allen Leatt, who attended, has committed IMCA to supporting this initiative. It represents a significant programme for improving safety performance. So, this October, having suddenly become an expert in human performance, I attended a two day workshop session that taking developments one step further. The workshop teased out aspects of a proposed vision for human performance, and looked through some human performance principles – for example, to err is human; we all make mistakes. The entire session was very worthwhile and I’m confident and excited for whatever the next step will be. Even though there is a great deal of human performance and human factors material out there, I’m certain we can do more in this area, improving members’ understanding of human factors and human performance principles. 

Our Communications and Marketing team have produced a summary “brochure” on IMCA contractor safety statistics; I mention this as we will soon, in the new year, be starting collection of 2021 safety statistics. Also, a small group of committee members met during November to begin work on Leading key performance indicators. Does IMCA have an agreed definition of a leading indicator? What safety programmes are there out there? Many of our smaller members may benefit from guidance or signposting to this kind of information. 

One interesting lesson that emerged from that initial discussion on leading indicators was that the sharing of ideas of itself, is seen as having the greatest value. Ideas that may completely re-energise a company approach to safety, can be heard in an open forum, in the “conversations in the corridors” as a Dutch member of the SEL Committee once said. “Is everyone else seeing what we are seeing?” – this is the question posed by some of our biggest members. Starting at first with the HSSE Core Committee, and initially remaining virtual, we will look into holding an IMCA contractors safety forum, wherein ideas can be shared in an engaging atmosphere, under Chatham House Rules. I would hope to able to offer this to the wider membership as a real or actual meeting, during next year.  

Meanwhile, we will look closely at our safety statistics, at the existing ideas we have for leading indicators, and also take a close look at what other information of value and interest might be drawn from the wealth of safety flash data we have collected over the last twenty years.  

Next time, I’ll hope to concentrate on a review of safety flashes during 2021, and also bring some idea of what the HSSE Core Committee should take on as objectives for the next two years. Stay safe, and may I be the first to wish everyone a relaxing Christmas break. 

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