TT Talk - Integrity in near miss reporting

The cost of safety failures, however small the frequency rate, is usually disproportionate; equally, the rewards for safe operations and practices generally accrue significant benefits. Effective near miss reporting is key.

It is widely recognised that most operators already have established health and safety management systems which are a critical step towards managing risk within any organisation.

As a generality, the rate of incidents across the maritime industry has reduced in the last decade, but is arguably still at unacceptable levels when compared to other industry sectors. Worryingly, whilst progress in terms of safety has clearly been made, reduction in incident rates appears to have plateaued.

Few would disagree that two key elements to achieve a further significant reduction beyond the current safety levels and towards the successful development of sound safety culture are increased near miss reporting and improved cross industry sharing of learnings taken from investigations.

In order to develop a healthy safety culture within an organisation there will be barriers to be overcome, often associated with blame and fear. Where individual employees are afraid of criticism from their peers or feel that they will be blamed by their employer, the propensity to report minor incidents and near misses diminishes drastically.

As with many elements of managing health and safety, the development of a transparent culture must be driven from Board level in an organisation. This is fundamental to 'buy in' of all personnel; where this utopia can be achieved, incident and near miss reporting will increase.

The vast majority of near miss incidents currently go unreported, which can have devastating consequences. Each near miss event provides valuable opportunities to improve, whether behaviourally, procedurally or technologically. The real risk is that vital lessons are never identified and learned, giving rise to actual incidents. Establishing a forum for the reporting and investigation of near misses inevitably needs to be completed with dissemination throughout the workforce of the learnings taken and conclusions drawn. Recognising a broader industry interest in sharing outside an individual organisation is truly taking responsibility.

TT Club has, together with UKP&I Club, recently agreed to sponsor

CHIRP Maritime

, whose primary aim is to contribute to the enhancement of safety worldwide, through the provision of an independent, confidential incident reporting system for all individuals employed in or associated with the shipping and maritime industries.

The online central hub collates and investigates near miss information on a global scale, with a view to sharing such details with the wider maritime community.

CHIRP Maritime's quarterly newsletters

disseminates safety lessons learned, with a readership of 200,000 across 47 countries. Furthermore, the CHIRP Maritime website contains a data base of historic cases, which can be interrogated to support gathering guidance in relation to specific issues.

There is recognition that the more simple and accessible such a system is the more likely it is to be used. CHIRP Maritime have developed an encrypted online submission form which is both intuitive and provides a straightforward way to submit a report. Appreciating the importance of anonymity, an individual's details are systematically deleted once the issue has been confidentially investigated.

Using desensitized information only, CHIRP Maritime has investigated over 1,000 near miss incidents and conclude that around 37% of those incidents had the potential for 1-3 fatalities or permanent disabilities. One in five reports have been found to have a potential financial exposure of between US$100,000.00 and US$1 million, with a further estimated 17% having a potential exposure between US$1 million and US$10 million.

The CHIRP Maritime platform provides an opportunity to improve the safety of people across the maritime industry. The issues considered are frequently of a global nature and the system seeks to provide transparency where risk exposures exist affording all stakeholders the opportunity to gain an insight into best practice.

Sponsorship of CHIRP Maritime continues TT Club's industry role to promote maritime safety and in particular information on the 'human element' in incidents. This was recently highlighted in a Marine Guidance Note issued by the UK Maritime & Coastguard Agency entitled

'The Deadly Dozen - 12 Significant People Factors in Maritime Safety'

. While this focuses on 'maritime' almost all the issues raised are transferable to other parts of the supply chain. Any management team - for risks afloat or ashore - would benefit from working through the Deadly Dozen question matrix.

We are grateful to Ian Hyslop who has provided valuable contributions.

We hope that you have found the above interesting. If you would like further information, or have any comments, please email us, or take this opportunity to forward to any colleagues who you may feel would be interested.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Michael Yarwood

Senior Loss Prevention Executive, TT Club

Staff Author

TT Club