The 2014 target for near-miss reports was set to 1,200, but as the year drew to a close 4,200 recorded reports indicate that Svitzer was on the right track by launching our programme to build safety awareness in 2012.

The AL DEEBEL accident in 2012 was a real awakening for Svitzer, one which catapulted safety awareness and initiatives to the top of our priority list. At the time, Svitzer faced a number of long-term safety-related challenges. Most notably, our combined operations had over 1,200
different safety procedures and multiple safety systems across regions. With this level of complexity, it was difficult to ensure that all employees enjoyed the same high safety standards. This complexity also proved to be a major challenge from a customer perspective – e.g., the same
client faced different safety procedures for a similar operation in discharge and load ports.

Raising the safety bar for Svitzer, and the entire industry, thereby became our number-one strategic objective as part of the Raise the Wind strategy. Our safety agenda had several specific goals: 
• Ensure that all employees have safety at top of mind, so everyone can return home safe at the end of the workday
• Offer our customers the same safety standard regardless of operation or geographical location
• Establish a single global safety system, based on the OVMSA standard 
• Create a lean system of 250 core safety procedures

All of these plans were meant not only to raise safety standards and help protect all Svitzer employees, but also to increase reliability for customers and thereby establish our global safety approach as a unique commercial differentiator when competing for new tenders. 

To achieve these goals, the Marine Standards organisation was put in place and we proceeded to upgrade our HSSEQ capabilities. But beyond organisational changes, we needed to also improve safety awareness and safety leadership across the marine and shore organisation. With this in mind, we launched our annual Safety Day to bring together colleagues at all operations to discuss ways to improve safety. The first Safety Day theme was Stop Authority – raising awareness that every employee holds not only the authority but also the responsibility to stop an operation if anyone is in doubt of its level of safety. The Shipshape programme, developed for our Safety Day in 2014, emphasised the importance of a tidy and well maintained work environment, to prevent incidents from happening.

In 2015 we will roll out the so-called SOVIQ, a self-assessment tool for tugs based on the OVMSA standard that has already been implemented as part of Svitzer’s new HMS guidelines. 

A good start was made in the final quarter of 2014 through worldwide train-the-trainer sessions in the use of SOVIQ questionnaires. Those trained will then extend the training throughout the organisation. Beginning 1 April, fully trained SOVIQ inspectors will go on board all tugs at six-month intervals, working alternately with engineers and deck officers to ensure that all areas of each tug are meeting our safety and maintenance requirements. Crews will also do their own self-assessments through a questionnaire. This is no easy change to implement, but the result should be an ongoing focus on maintaining safe and fully operational vessels, with all equipment in good operating condition and all lifesaving and firefighting equipment ready to use. We encourage you to reach out to your local or regional Marine Standards manager for more information.

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• OVMSA – Offshore vessel management self-assessment
• HSSEQ – Health, safety, security and environment
• SOVIQ – Svitzer offshore vessel inspection questionnaire
• HMS – Harmonized management system