After several years of improvement in casualty statistics the trend is now reversing and the culprit may be the attention paid to environmental safety. More balance is needed says DNV’s president, Tor E. Svensen.
“Year on year improvements in ship safety is now turning into a negative trend. This is extremely worrying and requires a stronger focus on competence development both onboard and onshore,” Svensen said at the recent Sea Asia.
“Statistics show that the accident frequency has started rising from a historic low. This trend is supported by increased pay-out from the insurance companies. Technology, rules and compliance will never bring us to the expected level of safety without focusing stronger on the human element,” Tor E. Svensen says.
“Historically, the safety focus on shipping has been on technical improvements. Most employees dealing with the operation of the vessel in a shipping company have a technical background. Audits and inspections are strongly focused on technical compliance. This technical focus has brought major improvements to ship safety. Now is time to increase focus on the soft issues.”
“The improvement potential is great,” Svensen claims. “DNV has made some observations when performing audit and projects for shipping companies. These show that much of the training offered could be more effective with more time spent on actual training of higher quality. Shipping companies struggle to deliver training on soft skills, and few companies measure the effects of their training.”
Possible initiatives to improve safety level include safety culture mapping, crew resource management training, and safety performance monitoring through leading and lagging indicators.
“Public and regulatory focus has moved towards environmental risk and away from human safety and personnel risk. We need to re-establish the balance between safety and environmental risk. Zero tolerance to loss of human life is equally important as zero environmental damage,” he says.