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The Importance of Safety Culture within Briggs Marine

Safety Culture is of utmost importance to Briggs Marine and we recognise that a positive safety culture is a major influence of safety performance.

The culture of safety is of utmost importance to Briggs Marine and the Company recognise that a positive safety culture is a major influence of safety performance.

Danny Mclaren, Group HSEQ (Health, Safety, Environment and Quality) Manager, expressed his thoughts on how the company’s current safety culture responded to the pandemic: “The company’s safety culture appears to have responded well to the threat of COVID-19; collectively the challenge has been well understood, and all have been willing to pull together and been tolerant of the minor inconveniences and adopted new habits. Whilst perceptions of the risks remain high, we expect everyone to remain motivated to adhere to these newly adopted hygiene habits; social distancing, regularly cleansing of hands and so on.”

From the beginning of the pandemic it was deemed safer for employees to work from home, where possible. Employees were asked to fundamentally change their behaviours to protect themselves, their colleagues, their family, and the wider community. Management was available to provide support to those who found this challenging, specifically in terms of mental health and work-life balance. To achieve the correct behaviours, the Briggs Marine HSEQ team continuously ensure there are coherent workable standards of behaviour, everyone can perceive the risk, and everyone feels empowered to raise concerns.

Briggs Marine adapted and responded to the shift in global health and safety promptly. The HSEQ Department developed a COVID-19 risk assessment to identify any changes required to key policies, procedures, and practices. The Company Board of Directors swiftly introduced policies to prohibit non-essential travel and facilitate home working wherever practicable. The Company Operating Divisions introduced practices such as open-air shift handovers, the provision of cleansing stations, and segregated welfare provision. Under the leadership of the board there has been strong cross departmental collaboration involving HSEQ, Marketing, HR, Training, IT, Procurement and Operational departments to develop and implement the COVID-19 resilience plan. In addition, due to the unprecedented shift in global Health and Safety culture, Briggs Marine will re-launch its Safety Culture Improvement Programme

As the Company moves out of the initial response phase, it is concerned with providing a sustainable COVID-19 secure work environment. To this end the HSEQ department published the COVID-19 Long Term Management Pack at the beginning of July comprising:

Revised Group Level Risk Assessment
Guidance for manager on risk assessment and control
A Code of conduct during COVID-19
COVID-19 self-declaration form
Management of contractors and essential visitors during COVID-19
A training course in Managing Coronavirus in the workplace
Guidance for Cleaning during COVID-19
Awareness poster pack
One of the biggest challenges faced by the HSEQ department has been the amount of conflicting information regarding the disease, especially during the early stages of the pandemic. Also, the travel restrictions threatened to disrupt the HSEQ audit and inspection schedule. However, it was possible to work around this using remote conferencing technologies. The key to combating these challenges has been through the Company’s ability to remain flexible, adapt and over-come.

Jeremy Jones, our Divisional HSEQ Manager, expressed his vision of what the future may hold: “The next challenge begins as we return to work and lifestyle patterns more reflective of a time before COVID-19. HSEQ will be making efforts to ensure no one becomes complacent. As mentioned COVID-19 resilience has been integrated into the audit and inspection schedule.”

A word from our Port & Marine Operations Director, Iain Ross

Our Port & Marine Operations Director, Iain Ross, answered some questions regarding the importance of safety culture within Briggs Marine.

What is the importance of an effective safety culture within the marine industry?
Our industry is one of the most dangerous there is. We place people in an inherently hazardous environment – whether they are on land or afloat – and we need, above all, to make sure that they are safe. One of the ways that we do this is to encourage and demand a Culture of Safety. In this Culture, safe practice is integrated into the way we think and act.

What are the requirements for Briggs to achieve a high-quality safety culture?
Culture is a difficult thing to change – If we think that rules dictate behaviours then, in my personal view, ‘Culture’ is what happens when either the rules don’t apply or no one’s looking. Anybody can write rules and procedures. Developing a Culture requires leadership and accountability. It requires that the Company is honest about its shortcomings and celebrates its successes. It requires that we look carefully and honestly about how we can improve, and we do it. Most importantly of all, it means that we are driven by our Values and that we let others in and outside of the Company know that this is what’s important to us.

For management, what is the biggest indicator that they can look for in their company to determine if their safety culture is effective — before an incident occurs (such as COVID-19)?
We have a range of tools available – we subscribe and conduct HSE Labs ‘Safety Climate Tool’ analysis which is a periodic and confidential survey of Staff beliefs and behaviours which then generates improvement plans and hot spots. More generally, we look for statistics especially in the amount of leading safety indicators and dialogues (such as hazard observations recorded, safety tours and topical toolbox talks). An absence of these never means that the workplace is inherently safe. What it can mean is that the workplace isn’t of the belief that this behaviour is important. That’s exactly the kind of Cultural Cue that we’re good at positively challenging.

In terms of safety culture, would you say there is a ‘new normal’ post Covid-19?
I think there’s definitely a ‘new-normal’ but I don’t think it extends to our Safety Culture and – quite the opposite – we are emphasising a back to basics approach to Safety to re-balance the C-19 versus everyday hazard emphasis. Hygiene, distancing, personal accountability and self-isolation as requested are incredibly important and will continue to be for the foreseeable future but they are no more important than continuing to emphasise our Positive Safety Culture.

If management is fully behind culture change, how likely is it to succeed?
We’ve always found that Culture comes from the Staff in the business. If you accept my premise that Culture is what you do when either the rules don’t apply or no one’s looking, then you need to also accept that the desire to have a Positive Safety Culture needs to be there in our Staff from top to bottom and in all roles. Our Management can foster and encourage this and can let people know that this is important, but they can’t really make them say and feel it. Put another way, we can set out the environment and tell our People that this is important, but we are always aware that they must take the step. I think we’re pretty good at encouraging them to do that.