Safety culture across cultures

As seafarers, we meet many different cultures and each of them thinks in a different way. About safety too. And we try hard to understand them and get the best from both sides to perform the work ahead in a safe way.  

Why we do that? Well, the answer is simple, we don’t want anybody on board to get hurt or injured because the safety was set aside, we want our crew to come home in the same condition as they came on board. We take care of them as they take care of us, we help each other without thinking about rank, race or religion, maybe we will never become friends, but on board we are colleagues and we respect and help each other.

After Freja was flagged to Denmark, we got a period of 2-3 months without projects so we used the time to check everything on board regarding safety. The budget was not big but we did not compromise our safety or our potential clients' safety - we helped each other! Our mission was to get Freja ready for any project that could come at any time.

The DMA was visiting Freja regarding the change of flag to the Danish Register. They brought an instructor from the Danish Seafarers Medical Centre who advised us on instruments, what medicine to have on board and how to arrange our hospital room in the best possible way .. 

The Captain contacted The Danish Maritime Sea and Health and they helped us to install their program on board. We knew the SeaHealth programme from our previous company and was used to it. We added our risk assessment and chemicals to the SeaHealth programme and we taught our Filipino crew how to use it too.

Our first project came and it was a survey job where we should work with people from many different countries and get all of them to understand our safety culture in a limited period of time. We got 2 -3 weeks to mobilize the vessel and some of the client’s crew arrived at Lindø. Our first job was to give them a familiarisation on board, introduce them to our Safety and Health system, ISM, toolbox and Soc cards system. We gathered all of them at the bridge and explained them the safety culture on board, introduced them to our work permit system and everything concerning safety.

In the beginning, it was a little hard to get the client’s crew to understand why they needed a permit to work if they were climbing on top of the ROV or welding outside. They argued that is was too far from the deck to the bridge but we managed with a smile to explain to them that it was better to walk 20 steps to the bridge than sailing 200 miles to the nearest hospital. We know that a piece of paper will not keep people from getting injured but that piece of paper will help the seafarer to remember to take some precautions so he/she doesn’t get injured or hurt. That piece of paper will help the seafarer to identify the risks regarding the job and that piece of paper called toolbox together with a risk assessment of the job keep seafarers aware of the risky job we have at sea.

Our customers soon found out that we were not jeopardizing with their safety and we got positive feedback from them. On top of that, they helped us to increase the vessel safety culture on board adopting our safety system to them, like toolbox, risk assessment and job descriptions.

In general, most seafarers are aware of safety on board and accepting our point of view even though they sometimes think that there is too much safety, but that is the way it is since HSE got at sea. 

I think, we successfully ended the project without any LTI because we could simply got our team to march in the same direction, communicating, respecting, accepting and taking care of each other. In a reduced environment, as it is on a vessel, “that magic that allows groups of ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary things together” and in this case, the magic was called safety in a friendly environment.

Generally, when we all paddle to the same side, things usually end well.

Keep safe out there.
Pedro Budrovich Romo
Chief Officer M/V Freja
NCT Offshore