Safety Culture Conference 2022: A Review

SCC final

Earlier this week over 70 delegates from across the shipping community gathered in Liverpool for the  annual UK Chamber of Shipping Safety Culture Conference.  This year’s conference, sponsored by Bureau Veritas, Shell, the UK P&I Club and V Group, focused on the importance of safety culture being embedded at all levels of an organisation but especially senior management.

Chamber President Graham Westgarth opened the conference by reflecting that during his 51 years in shipping, the industry had been adept at solving technical challenges to safety, but had struggled with cultural ones. He highlighted that we needed to remember the most important element to a robust safety culture was not technology but those who work in our industry.

This theme was built upon later that morning by Scott Baker, Head of Marine Standards at Svitzer, who spoke about the importance of ensuring that trust runs throughout an organisation but especially that those on the front line have confidence that senior management live the safety culture that they champion.

Several speakers highlighted the importance of language both written and spoken. Tim Marsh discussed the difference between “do this safely, but by Friday” and “do this safely and by Friday” in how employees will view how safety is perceived within an organisation. Nippin Anand closed out day 1 with an enlightening presentation that included a case study that showed how language used by employees can reflect how they feel about an organisation and its culture.

During the conference delegates also heard from David Rush, Himanshu Chopra, Sarah Waite and Stuart Edmondson as part of a panel discussion on mental wellbeing. David also spoke about the significance of having an anonymous whistleblowing system for employees while Stuart raised the importance of caring for your staff as people and not just about their performance.

As part of day 2 a short workshop where, having watched a film that portrayed an accident, delegates discussed the context of why it happened and how it could be managed and avoided in the future.

Two other key themes than ran throughout the conference were ensuring that organisations did not overcomplicate their approach to safety and that an objective and analytical approach was taken to safety failures without seeking to apportion blame. Alistair Eagles and John Fitzmaurice of Seatruck Ferries showcased their recent approach to improving vehicle deck safety of standardising, simplifying and engaging with the front line as an excellent case study.

Conference attendees were also treated to Mike Bradshaw providing advance sight of new and soon to be published guidelines on behavioural safety systems from the National Maritime Occupational Health and Safety Committee. Providing a legal perspective John Caddies and Stephen Barnfield of Hill Dickinson showed how a lack of a safety culture can result in both financial and criminal consequences for organisations.

Thank you to our sponsors, delegates and speakers for a successful conference and we look forward to welcoming you to the 2023 Conference with more details to follow in the New Year.