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Continuing to support vital industry conversations on safety

Published on 1 September 2023

Earlier this year the HSSE Committee held its first seminar since November 2019, at the Steigenberger Hotel at Amsterdam. The event was opened by IMCA CEO Iain Grainger and included impactful and inspirational presentations from the Danish Maritime Accident Board, Equinor, P&O Maritime and Logistics, Fugro, Heerema, MMA Offshore, Subsea7 and TechnipFMC.

A key learning is that it is still vitally important for industry professionals to get together to talk about important issues like safety. As a former member of the HSSE Committee once said, the value of seminars is in the “conversations in the corridors”. We have no plans to give up our habit of meeting.

IMCA Contact

Nicholas Hough
Consultant – Safety and Security

IMCA Safety Seminar 2023 in Amsterdam

Other key takeaways from the event were the importance to Members of human and organisational performance, and the areas of human rights, corporate social responsibility and diversity. How can we ensure that things are being done properly, all the way down the supply chain? What are the learnings we need to take home from the rapid development of AI and machine learning? How can this new technology help and facilitate our work in safety?

Exploring human and organisational performance

The work of safety gurus Sidney Dekker and Todd Conklin has been influential for some years now; the concept of Human and Organisational Performance has arisen from their work. The HSSE Committee will be preparing an Information Note to brief the wider membership on this important topic. It will cover the five principles of human and organisational performance – these being: Error is normal—people make mistakes; Blame fixes nothing; Learning and improving is vital; Context influences behaviour; and lastly, how we respond to failure matters. There’s much to take on board.

One of their most interesting ideas is that of the learning team. A learning team is a different type of investigation. Instead of investigating a failure in the traditional way, making the assumption that failure happens because someone didn’t do exactly as they were told, a learning team looks at operational variability, slow drift in processes, and at error “traps”. Rather than trying right away to establish a “root cause”, the focus is on fully understanding the context of the problem fully before moving on to solving it.

Another area of interest arising from the above is Leading Performance Indicators. There are several things happening in high reliability organisations that can be shown to be predictive of good and safe outcomes. Examples that have been identified are, the extent to which local decision-making is allowed; the proven ability and willingness of workers to stop the job; good communications between hierarchies and between departments, and clear and obvious pride of workmanship.

Improvements to our Safety Statistics and Safety Flashes

The HSSE Core Committee intends to meet more frequently to drive actions and objectives through more quickly.  One of these meetings will look the IMCA Safety Statistics definitions and look at possibly adopting terms like Lost Workday Case (LWDC) or Days Away from Work Case (DAFWC). This comes in light of incidents where Members have noted lost workday cases caused by heat exhaustion, where no actual injury was involved. On our Safety Statistics more generally, we are looking to stimulate further engagement and contribution from Members, and I will, once again, reiterate their vital importance to improving our collective performance as an industry.

I have recently been reviewing all of our 2,000+ historical Safety Flashes and have been able to tidy up and sharpen our database of incidents where the most transgressed Life-Saving Rules remain “Line of Fire” and “Bypassing safety controls”. We’ve recently had some gruesome hand and finger injuries reported and some have objected to graphic images of such injuries being published – even if behind a link. Whilst we take no satisfaction in publishing these, it is IMCA’s view that if even one person avoids injury, then sharing is worthwhile. We will nonetheless continue to give warnings when graphic content is shared, and the reader will need to click on a link to see it.

The HSSE Core Committee will meet in person in September at the IMCA offices and looks forward to an exciting and productive time on that day. Looking further ahead, it will soon be time for committee elections, so if you’re interested in becoming more involved in IMCA’s safety work, do not hesitate to get in touch to discuss.

Nick Hough is Consultant – Safety and Security at IMCA.