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Towards a zero-injury shipping industry

Through its work on Safety Culture, the UK Chamber is changing the way shipping thinks about safeguarding its workforce.

No other maritime organisation has shifted the conversation around safety like the UK Chamber has in its work to help shipping companies understand and implement safer working cultures at sea and ashore.

Our Safety Culture initiative has become highly valued by our members and we intend to build on these successes during 2019 and beyond through the launch of our Safety Culture charter.

Quite simply, Safety Culture is what makes people care about working safely.

We would all agree that no one wants to be injured at work or see injury befall a colleague – yet accidents still happen. What is the missing link? Mind-set.

Without an effective Safety Culture, people don’t care about preventing accidents and simply deal with them as and when they happen.

When Safety Culture is at its most effective, staff have a proactive attitude towards ensuring nobody gets hurt at work.

It’s called a “culture” because it’s a collective concern for safety shared throughout an organisation at every level and it evolves as the business changes.

It’s easy to be complacent, however, and that’s something our work tackles.

You might think your organisation has a safe working culture, but you could be mistaken if you regularly hear people tell each other “don’t worry about it” or “fingers crossed” or “it’ll be fine”.

Leaving things to chance and downplaying the importance of awareness are symptomatic of a workplace that lacks a solid culture of safety.

On the other hand, if you’re regularly hearing people saying “let’s just double-check” or “stop and wait a moment” or “it’s good for you to understand why we do this”, it sounds as though you are on the right track.

Safe workplaces are ones in which people share a thoughtful, critical attitude towards accident prevention, without trusting in good luck and without prioritising the need to get the job done quickly at the expense of safety.

Fostering a positive Safety Culture throughout an organisation has been shown to reduce risk and save money because there are fewer accidents and maintenance can be performed more effectively and with less downtime.

It’s for these reasons that the UK Chamber has been promoting the concept of Safety Culture to its member companies and advises them on how to create such an environment.

Our Safety Culture Working Group meets regularly to set the agenda for how this is done. Anyone is welcome to join the group – in fact we encourage it – so long as they are employed by one of our member companies.

Shipping companies usually have their own in-house safety initiative, but we believe that these programmes can be made stronger by exchanging best practice and experience with people from other organisations.

The UK Chamber is able to facilitate these interactions and will continue this work in 2019.

We have held two successful and informative Safety Culture Seminars so far, with plans for another later this year.

This annual two-day event is a chance for people to come together to discuss safety best practice and learn from experts.

It also provides a supportive, discreet and non-judgemental environment where people can confidently share details of failings as well as successes, so that everybody can learn from them.

This is what helps root our Safety Culture work in the “real-world” and make it relevant, informed and based on experience, not wishful thinking.

In 2019, the UK Chamber will take our Safety Culture work to the next level.

We will be launching our ‘Safety Culture Charter’, which companies can sign to show their commitment to making the working environment a safer place to be.

Safety Culture requires a company’s senior management to be committed to improvement and the charter seeks to help motivate leaders to be as good as their word.

But improving safety is not the sole responsibility of management – ownership is shared among the workforce from the top of an organisation to its bottom.

A detailed engagement plan has been produced to work alongside the Safety Culture Charter and will be put into action throughout 2019.

This plan will assist the Chamber in deciphering what safety data is collected within the industry already, how it can best be used and how we can learn from other industries.

Everyone in the company needs to be continuously learning about how to this can be done and any new procedures must be realistic and workable.

To achieve these goals, in 2019 we will be launching our Safety Culture Toolkit, which our members can use to promote the message throughout their organisation.

Anyone who works for a member company can make use of the UK Chamber’s advice if they need help improving safety.

Besides how to create a safer working culture, we also advise on how to make sense of safety regulations and how to comply with them effectively.

Any member can join and attend the meetings of the Chamber’s Safety Culture Working Group and/or our Safety & Environment Committee.

A wealth of safety guidance is available to members on our website, to which we will also add the Safety Culture toolkit later this year.

Members can also attend many UK Chamber events and seminars for free.

But the continued efficacy of our Safety Culture initiative – its relevance and usefulness to our members – relies on the exchange of new ideas, best practice and sharing the realities of safety failures as well as successes.

We invite you to become part of the conversation here at the UK Chamber and help us make shipping safer.
Source: UK Chamber of Shipping

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