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12 Jul 2021
4 mins
A Safety Culture for Safer Workplaces Onboard Ships!
Safety Culture Webinar Group Shot

On 18 June, SMOU with the support of Wavelink Maritime Institute (WMI) conducted a webinar titled “Sustainability of Onboard Safety Culture”. The webinar was catered for shipping employers to gain know-hows on creating a safety culture on board ships so that accidents and fatalities can be minimised. Especially during the time of COVID-19, with many preventive measures that seafarers have to adhere to, workplace safety can sometimes be overlooked. Attending the online session were 65 company representatives from 23 SMOU collective bargaining agreement companies ready to make their vessels a safer one for our seafarers.

Opening the session was SMOU General Secretary, Ms Mary Liew who addressed the attendees and thanked them for their participation. She communicated the importance of practicing a safe culture especially for seafarers, who in an event of an accident do not have immediate access to advanced medical facilities and equipment. Rallying participants, she said “We want our seafarers after serving onboard ships to be able to go home safely to their families and loved ones. I believe that employers have a part to play in fostering a productive, yet safe environment. Our workers are looking to their employers to draw parameters of workplace safety so that accidents and risks can be minimised.” She also assured that tripartite partners have been working on the pandemic aspect of safety of seafarers, with the prioritisation of vaccines for seafarers.

Mr Rangan 1
Mr Rangan 2
Mr KHK Rangan conducting the webinar from the WMI office

Mr KHK Rangan, a Safety Counsultant for DuPont, was the speaker for the day. His accolades in maritime include working with the National Maritime Board (NMB) and the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) where he was deeply involved at various meetings like the Maritime Safety Committee of the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

The shipping industry is one that never sleeps, and companies maximise revenue by planning and organising their fleet to avoid idling ships. Similarly, safety protocol can sometimes be deemed as cumbersome and long-winded. But Mr Rangan in his sharing sought to shift participants’ mindsets from the opportunity costs of safety, to the longer running benefits of maintaining such a culture.

From the wealth of his experience, Mr Rangan stressed on the importance and value of a safety culture, and how it begins at the top of the company. He dished out handles on how to build and sustain an environment of “safety first” so that complacency will not be tolerated, and incidents can be avoided. He also proposed that revenue can be maximised not when cutting safety corners, but fostering a culture where incidents and accidents are minimised.

At the end of the webinar, Mr Rangan opened the floor for a Q&A session and participants expressed their keenness to learn from their questions. Questions included past experiences on board ships where safety was difficult to instill, and Mr Rangan shared advice from his experiences.

The webinar provided a two-pronged approach to benefit workers and shipping companies by creating a safe working environment on ships out at sea. Everyone learned something that day, and when it comes to safety, prevention is always better than cure!

“Attending the webinar was an enriching experience for me. It was heartening to see the SMOU team encouraging safety as a value in the maritime community rather than just another mandatory requirement.”

Captain Vivek Dwivedi, HSEQ Manager and Deputy CSA, Teekay Marine Singapore

Captain Vivek
Captain Md Ataul

“It was a very good virtual session organised by SMOU, and the webinar was very well presented. As said, safety is not the priority – it is the value that should be accounted for. I believe that any good change that needs to be implemented should start from us (shipping companies).”

Captain Md Ataul Majid, Deputy General Manager, Unix Line