Chamber of Shipping safety culture conference

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Published: Nov 3, 2021

In late September, PSS attended the Chamber of Shipping Safety Culture conference to discuss the key areas where shipping and ports safety policies overlap and inform each other. The event highlighted several important lessons that the shipping and ports sectors can work on in tandem. 

One common theme coming out of the event was the necessity for visible leadership on health and safety. This came both from the perspective of the workforce, who look to managers and directors to establish the ethos of the company, and management themselves, as accidents can cause reputational and economic damage to an organisation.  

Alan Page blog
Dr. Alan Page – ” safety is
entirely compatible
with operational goals”

This is a sentiment echoed by PSS board member Dr. Alan Page, who last year published a blog on the importance of health and safety to the economic viability of a company. This sort of visibility can take many forms, such as publicly subscribing to PSS safety pledges, implementing transparent reporting, and reinforcing positive behaviour through recognition.  

A shift in culture cannot be effectively implemented top-down only, and there was a definitive call to empower the workforce to take ownership of health and safety in the workplace. P&O Ferries posited that stop work authority and a hazardous observation app had proven effective in their organisation and could appeal to the wider industry.  

Condor Ferries similarly said that an auditable reporting system had been encouraged at their facilities. There was a consensus among the speakers that while management needs to be visible and acknowledge good behaviour, the workforce needs to be provided with tools, training, and confidence to monitor their environment.  

Whole Person
Culture plays a large role in
the Whole Person approach
to Health and Safety

The PSS SiP documents are seen as providing the basis for a shift in safety culture but that each port needed to implement them within their own training on immediate situational understanding. PSS will also be working on developing the SiP documents into practical tools for use on the quayside, giving the workforce the training necessary to identify and mitigate risk.  

The event attendees noted that for such tools to thrive however, a “just culture” must be promoted, alongside an environment in which workers feel confident enough to report breaches without fear of personal and professional retribution.  

According to Hazel Lewis from the Marine and Coastguard Authority, barriers to this include a lack of trust, lack of appreciation, short-termism, a legacy of complacency, and lack of communication. This chimes with the “Whole Person Approach” to health and safety previously pioneered by PSS . 

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