Using KPIs to develop a culture of on-board safety

Working on-board a vessel involves an element of risk. The usual procedure of mitigating risk involves carrying out a risk assessment and getting it approved by the office before carrying out the work. This is a necessary step in minimizing risk from the work being done on-board.

Many owners and management companies strive to reach the safety standards set by the oil majors. A favorable review by one of the majors means more contracts, but implementing these standards can be both expensive and time-consuming. Sailors often talk about how little work gets accomplished on-board some vessels because of how stringent the company’s standards and protocols are. Stringent protocols reduce the risk associated with hazardous work, but implementing them has an associated cost that many companies are unable or unwilling to take on.

One way to address this is to develop a stronger safety culture across the fleet. There are several approaches to this. Here are two approaches that we have seen recently.

The first company has been taking a proactive approach to developing a fleet-wide safety culture. What they do is simple – they are monitoring the number of Stop Cards issued on board their vessels. Vessels are expected to be issuing a minimum number of stop cards each month. The thought behind using this KPI is that it ensures that taking the necessary steps to work safely, even if it takes a few minutes longer to don the required safety equipment, becomes second nature to all crew. This KPI is tracked by the company using BIOME, which allows for fleet-wide comparisons of stop cards issued, as well as drilldowns to see how individual vessels and vessel groups are performing. This metric can also be compared to other safety metrics to see trends of how the overall safety and compliance on board a vessel is affected by this single step. By doing this, they have been improving their on-board safety culture by ensuring that every crew member is involved in safely completing work.

A second company takes a different approach. This company distributes its safety circulars through mHSEQ Knowledge Manager to all their vessels around the world. The crew, on reading a circular, are expected to complete a short questionnaire on the topics discussed. By doing this, the company is able to ensure that their crew are knowledgeable about the latest safety standards in the company and industry. The company is also able to gather information on how well their circulars are communicating the information from the answers to the questionnaire. These answers can then be discussed in safety meetings, and the minutes can be replicated to Shore in a predesigned report from within mHSEQ.

These are two different approaches to developing a culture of safety across a company while working within the existing guidelines that are already part of a Safety Management System. We are always interested in hearing how you are improving the safety culture within your fleet. Let us know in the comments below.