- The necessary time must be spent by all leaders in the global transport industry to understand the work carried out in the front line.
- Identify serious risk areas, bring in the experts, attack the risks from all angles and commit to action and progress.
- Showcasing best practices, recording how many times unsafe work is stopped, recognising and rewarding the right behaviours, are all strategies that assist.
Mike Yarwood said, “Having spent 36 years in a variety of prominent roles in the transport industry, and as a Director on the TT Club board, safety is a passion of mine. While I retired from Maersk a year ago, I held overall responsibility for safety, security, resilience and for crisis management at Maersk. Of course it is important to make money and deliver progress on many different fronts, but at the end of the day there is, in my opinion, nothing as important as keeping colleagues and partners safe from harm so that they can return home from work.”
Mike Yarwood greatly concerns that this is not the way it is in many places in the global transport industry. It is necessary to understand that many of the companies operate in dangerous environments, where it is essential that safety risks are monitored closely.
The main personal safety risks are with our front line colleagues on the ships, in the warehouses and so on and yet, at the same time, the ones who have the mandate to change processes, approve investments are the ones sitting in the offices.
It is considered essential that the necessary time is spent by all leaders in the global transport industry
- to understand the work carried out in the front line,
- to frequently visit and observe the work,
- to allocate time for understanding the risks associated with the work,
- to conduct safety process confirmation walks,
- to participate in sessions with frontline colleagues
- to determine actions that can be taken to mitigate these risks.
This way, knowledge about the work and risks from the experts in the front lines can be connected with the decision making, innovation that are required to combat these risks.
Maximizing the Effect
- It is essential to build the capacity to fail in operations. One should work to identify risks and mitigate them, but procedures will not always be followed and things will not always go as planned, accidents will happen.
- Think and plan ahead. Certain car brands, recognised for the safety of their vehicles, invest millions of dollars in developing their cars with the clear expectation that there will be accidents. They build their cars so that the people driving them will be safe even if there is an accident. It is good and important to learn from accidents, but it would be so much better if one could reach such insights before the severe accidents happen, not only afterwards.
Todd Conklin, a safety expert from the Los Alamos National Laboratory (an organisation focused on safety research and development) and one of his most important sources of inspiration, powerfully stated that “Safety is not the absence of accidents but the presence of defences”.
Barriers In Reality
- Not backing up the correct plans and targets,
- The company’s culture,
- New or insufficiently trained personnel or
- Certain areas where there is increased risk.
Mike Yarwood hopes that greater efforts will be made to improve the quality and transparency of safety data and every company would benchmark themselves to peers in the industry and establish best practices.
There are many cases where creativity or innovation is hindered by a company’s atmosphere or bureaucracy. Creativity is best fostered by a good degree of supervisor encouragement, freedom to try things out, backed by organisational and monetary support and recognition. The absence of such attributes can be a barrier for essential creativity and innovation where safety is concerned.
Looking to the future, when innovative ideas materialise, one should consider: who you need to get on-board, how do you test the assumptions made, how do you track progress, how do you use technology or other means to sustain the progress and importantly how do you continuously improve.
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