Skip to content

Safety Corner

Welcome to the first edition of IMCA’s Safety Corner where we focus on the latest safety related activities. There’s a lot of interesting and topical discussion going on!

The IMCA HSSE Core Committee recently held their first quarterly meeting of the year. Seventeen senior safety professionals from across the membership met to cover a wide-ranging agenda, including safety flashes, safety statistics, and ensuring that IMCA’s safety guidance documents were up-to-date and fit for purpose. There was a detailed explanation of IMO’s work on reducing carbon emissions and on how IMCA and other industry bodies were collaborating to support members in effecting personnel movements in the current pandemic situation.  IMCA is a signatory of the Neptune Declaration which agrees a shared responsibility, based on roles across the entire maritime industry to ensure that all aspects of the global crew change crisis are resolved as soon as possible.

IMCA Contact

Nicholas Hough
Consultant – Safety and Security

The HSSE Committee were also interested to hear if the COVID-19 pandemic was having an impact on safety performance – and what could we do about it? This may be an issue we return to later in the year when things become clearer. What is certain is that we need to take very great care with potential people issues leading to incidents such as fatigue, stress and anxiety.

Members continue to find the IMCA Safety Flashes a very useful and high value product.  I’m always keen to hear feedback from Safety Flash readers as to what exactly is most useful about them, how they are used in the business and ways in which we might improve them or make them even better. Please do contact me at the secretariat if you have any suggestions to make about Safety Flashes. 

Let’s look at the Safety Flash process in a little more detail. After an unwanted incident, a company will share some form of report internally. We hope that they will also share that report with IMCA. Some members are very transparent and share all their reports, some of which don’t get published because although they have important content, they may lack clear sharing value for the wider membership. I take that report and transform it into something easy to read – a “one pager” if you like. This anonymized version is returned to the member for checking and approval to publish. Sometimes permission may be withheld for a range of reasons and occasionally I may have to make small changes to the content.  Generally speaking, though, publication proceeds and the learnings are shared.

What I also do is keep my eye on wider news trends within the industry: I’ll frequently publish reports I think are of interest to you, coming from organizations like the Marine Safety Forum, or the UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) and the U.S Coast Guard. Around a quarter of what I publish falls into this category.

If we drill down into reporting trends over the last few months, line of fire remains a central factor in the incidents and events reported. We work with our hands and we ought to look after them properly, so it’s dismaying to see titles like Injury to Fingers During Grinding Activity, Hand caught in moving belt, LTI: serious leg injury during quayside rigging work, Finger Injury While Handling Mooring Ropes. Maybe we need to take stock and ask ourselves and our crews – how good are we at watching out for each other, intervening and stopping the job whenever feeling unsafe, unsure or losing control?

Do we just continue to work unsafely, maybe because it’s quicker to carry on, or perhaps because we want an easy life and fear contradicting the management? Or is it simply because we finish work in twenty minutes? 

Lifting is of course central to nearly all IMCA members’ operations. In the last few months we’ve seen incidences of cargo snagging, a crane auxiliary block dropped from the crane boom, and potential dropped objects found on the load. 

One member though, reports that a vessel master stopped the job during lifting operations, because something unsafe was clearly happening. Even the captain is accountable – this vessel master had to satisfy both the client and his management that stopping the job was the right thing to do. This is one area where I’d very much like to encourage more reporting. The safety professionals believe that a “positive” reporting culture ought to be reflected in improved safety. That’s the theory anyway. So, I’d be very pleased to receive more “positive” incidents reinforcing or modelling good and safe behaviour.

At the end of this first ever IMCA Safety Corner, I’d like to extend the opportunity to you, the reader, to tell us what you’d like to see covered in this little piece. 

We’ll be back: it remains only for me to thank you for reading this (or listening) and to hope that you’ll tune in for the next IMCA Safety Corner.

Nick Hough

< Return to Making Waves - March 2021

Making Waves logo


Feedback and suggestions for future articles are welcome: [email protected]


Online signup coming soon - in the meantime, please email [email protected]