ICS educates ship owners about cultivating a culture of safety

In late May, we discussed some of the ways in which maritime operations can benefit from safety culture changes. The concept of cultural change involves far more than simply instituting revised safety policies devoid of context. Cultural change assumes that not only will policies, prevention measures, training and operations be affected by increased attention toward safety, it presumes that increased focus on safety will influence and inform every aspect of operations.

In an effort to reduce the rate of maritime injuries, occupational illness and maritime accidents currently occurring within the industry, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) has embraced the concept of cultural change in regards to maritime safety. It recently published guidance to be used by ship owners in reforming their own safety culture and instituting broad change for the benefit of maritime workers. This guidance is free and widely available for all industry employers.

The Secretary General of the ICS recently explained that the new guidance is “intended to provide some basic advice to companies on the successful implementation of an effective safety culture. This covers the vital need for all concerned, at sea and ashore, to understand the relationship between unsafe acts and serious incidents that may result with loss of life.”

Interestingly, one key element that the guidance emphasizes is that complacency and negative attitudes among maritime workers and professionals deeply affects a given operation’s culture of safety. Failure to address this particular concern can lead to all kinds of unsafe and unintended consequences for a given operation. In addition, the guidance explores how expectations related to this kind of behavioral modification, commitment to safety from the highest ranking administrators and performance measurement and accountability contribute to effective cultural change.

Given the critical importance of a strong culture of safety in maritime operations, employers may benefit from seeking out the new ICS guidance.

Source: Maritime Executive, “Implementing an Effective Safety Culture,” MAREX, June 10, 2013


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