Ship safety – it is about you, the seafarer who lives and breathes safety. How do you rate your own and your colleagues’ safety performance and culture?
Do you feel empowered and feel able to stop work and call attention to an unsafe practice without fear of repercussion? The safety message has to be apparent at all times and everyone needs to be on constant lookout for new hazards and risks associated with day to day activities. It is your attitude and behaviour with respect to the procedures and processes on board the ship which provides the key indication as to whether an effective safety culture exists. Training is key and permits to work and risk assessments should be simple, easy to use and relevant to you – if not, do something about it.
In this issue we return to the subject of accident prevention, particularly the importance of ensuring that you wear the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) even when performing routine tasks. There are still too many accidents where PPE was not correctly fitted or used inappropriately. Of course, the general rule is that use of PPE is always a last resort, where risks cannot be avoided or reduced to a safe level by means of collective protection, or safe systems of work. Hand and finger injuries continue to be the most frequent type seen by the Club and the majority are caused by carelessness, lack of planning and not thinking about the potential risks involved when performing a particular task.
In the period 2013-2015, 45% of the injuries recorded by the Club and suffered by you, the seafarers, were fractures and breaks. In total, there were 158 individual cases where someone going about their daily routine tasks suffered injury, sometimes horrendous injury, in situations that could easily have been avoided. Unsurprisingly, a substantial number of these incidents occurred in the engine room, the cargo holds and on weather and tween decks. These are the type of incidents we routinely refer to as slips, trips and falls – however, there is nothing routine about the pain and suffering experienced by seafarers, just like you.
In this issue we also highlight the fact that junior crew are at a higher risk of having an accident because of their lack of experience and there is often not enough guidance from senior members of the crew. In a recent tragic case, a deck cadet fell from a tween deck where he had been positioned alone after receiving training and risk assessment for the task in hand. The Club also handled a claim where a rating suffered severe burns caused when lighting a barbeque using an epoxy thinner. Can you identify instances on board where safety procedures are ignored? Can you identify work practices where you feel a more junior member of the crew should be accompanied by a more senior member of the team, even if in general safety awareness is high?
Recently in the UK, the press recorded the bizarre case of a man who choked to death as he tried to eat a McDonald’s cheeseburger in one mouthful. Unfortunately, his friends were unable to help him when this prank went disastrously wrong. While this is an extreme example, would you be able to help a colleague if food was digested the wrong way and your colleague began to choke? In this issue we explore a number of scenarios under the heading “what to do if someone…” If you have any questions or comments about any of the articles in this issue, please do not hesitate to contact us using the email address on the back cover.