At Svitzer, safety is from office to tugboat

The Global Safety Day promotes three safety essentials, one being the obligation to look out for each other. At Svitzer, this has linked people in offices with people on tugboats.

At Svitzer, safety is from office to tugboat
“We are doing well and I think we can still improve, particularly when it comes to proactivity,” says Matthew Hammock, a tug master on the River Thames in England.

We live safety

We want our employees and contractors to be out of harm’s way at work, and their families to trust that we’ll bring them home. And we want our customers and partners to be confident that we strive to keep lives and assets out of risk, no matter where they are.

The many different jobs, tasks and locations that the Group’s businesses offer are an immense attraction for many employees. However, they may constitute a challenge when it comes to creating a shared safety culture.

Long and busy weeks on a vessel, a tugboat or a drilling rig can give a feeling of being ‘on your own’ for offshore employees. For office employees, who have never had the opportunity to see for themselves, the challenges of an offshore environment can on the other hand be somewhat vague.

Opening doors and exchanging employees, Svitzer is poised to crack the code.

Open door policy

“A tugboat has become a much safer workplace but we must be aware that there is still danger and a potential for accidents. It can be isolated working for two weeks on a tug but we feel the support from the organization and that makes a difference,” says John Nelson, a tugboat captain with Svitzer.

Nelson has worked offshore for Svitzer since 1974, interrupted only by a brief period on shore. Today, his workplace is in Scotland as a tug master on the river Clyde.

When Svitzer reinforced its safety commitment in 2012, making it the no. 1 priority of its strategy, culture was identified as one of several focus areas. The challenge was – bringing matters to a head – that office people didn’t see safety as a concern and seafarers see the need for outside input.

All in the same boat

One initiative has been an exchange between employees in offices and employees on tugboats. Getting acquainted, learning and not least understanding that they are in the same boat:

At Svitzer, safety is from office to tugboat

If our crew can see how office staff take safety seriously, they will be similarly motivated to practice the same on the vessels.

KELVIN YEO, COO OF TERMINAL TOWAGE AT SVITZER AUSTRALIA

KELVIN YEO, COO OF TERMINAL TOWAGE AT SVITZER AUSTRALIA

A free fall practice run

Maersk Training has opened the first freefall lifeboat simulator in Northern Europe at its new centre in Esbjerg harbour. The facility is booked by Maersk Oil for the first four years and will make lifeboat training more effective and efficient.

“If our crew can see how office staff take safety seriously and observe a strong safety culture in the office, they will be similarly motivated to practice the same on the vessels and vice-versa,” says Kelvin Yeo who is COO of Terminal Towage at Svitzer Australia.

And things can still become even better:

“It’s important for everybody in the organization to be engaged in safety, linked arms from offices to tugboats. We are doing well and I think we can still improve, particularly when it comes to proactivity,” says Matthew Hammock, a tug master on the River Thames in England.

An obligation to speak up

To Kelvin Yeo, bridging office and offshore employees or any other functions, creating one safety culture across the company is key to push safety even further, and he leads by example:

“When departing the office to visit our tugs, I put on my PPE (personal protection equipment) where office staff can see that this is important to be appropriately dressed for safety. In the office, we start meetings with a safety moment, where we discuss a specific safety topic. This creates awareness and develops a culture,” he says. In John Nelson’s opinion the open door policy also comes with an obligation:

“If something isn’t right, we have to be able to channel that to the appropriate management. And I find that is easy to do. You just actually have to go ahead and do it. Even if it brings you out of your comfort zone to bring things to the attention of the right people,” Nelson says.

Engage in discussions

For today’s Global Safety Day, all Svitzer employees will take time out today and discuss safety matters, group work related to safety will be facilitated and employees will be introduced to the Svitzer Safety Quiz.

Svitzer also has an e-game where employees will have to consult the Safety Management System to answer tough questions and a board game where groups will be able to discuss different safety related topics.

The point to these activities is that creating a safety culture is about engaging in discussions on safety matters. Thus, input and views are shared across the organisation between employees in different functions, taking part in discussions “forces” participants to pay attention and take a stand.