The crew receive the CSD Report based on the recent Diagnosis survey conducted on board. Although the Summary shows that Risk Management got the second highest overall score among all safety areas, the Detailed Report also reveals gaps between the crew's perceptions of hazard identification skills.
What could the differences in perception across ranks mean? What should be done to address this perception gap?
Every individual views reality in his/her own way. In the safety culture context, the crew members will have different perceptions of the safety conditions. Based on the above report, the lack of skills to identify risks in a job is fairly often felt by the crew. The junior officers seem to share this perception. However, as indicated by the rank scores, the ratings have a less positive view while the senior officers see it more positively.
If we fail to discuss why the perceptions vary considerably, the dominant conditions, circumstances, and processes — which could be false or unsafe — will eventually become part of common practice. This could later on give rise to unforeseen risks and hazards.
So how can we address these gaps? The answer is to LINK them.
Before even dissecting the details, seek to understand everyone’s perception first by listening to all crew members.
FOR OFFICERS: Give all ranks a chance to describe their experiences. Practise active listening. Remember to also appreciate low evaluation.
Say: Based on the report, there seems to be a gap in how the ranks perceive the level of hazard identification skills. I appreciate the honest evaluation from everyone. And to understand it better, let us give one another a chance to describe our experiences. Let’s begin with the Ratings.
FOR SHORE-BASED STAFF: Initiate talks about perception gaps if the officers are unable to.
Ask: How did the dialogue with the crew go? What did the crew say about the perception gap in the level of hazard identification skills?
The example below illustrates a likely discussion:
In the on-board dialogue, the crew gave the following input about the perception gap in the crew’s level of hazard identification skills. According to the Senior Officers, the crew consist of seasoned and skilled seafarers. Plus, no major incidents or near misses were reported. Thus, they believe the crew have sufficient skills to identify the hazards. On the other hand, the Junior Officers think that hazard identification skills in high-risk and well-documented tasks such as cleaning the ballast tanks and accessing enclosed spaces are sufficient. However, the crew need to develop hazard identification skills for routine and non-high-risk tasks such as deck maintenance. Finally, the Ratings are not confident with their hazard identification skills, especially if there are no officers to lead and support them.
After hearing inputs from all ranks, begin asking questions about the differences. Ask open questions or those beginning with a WH word to encourage an objective discussion of the safety topic.
FOR OFFICERS: Avoid being defensive when your opinion is questioned. Likewise, never ridicule the crew when they express their opinion.
Open questions to ask: What do the Junior Officers and Ratings think about the observation of the Senior Officers? How are the Senior Officers and Ratings’ experience of hazard identification in relation to high-risk tasks? And to routine tasks? How can the Ratings develop confidence in their hazard identification skills?
Do NOT ask: Do the Junior Officers and Ratings think the Senior Officers made a wrong observation? Are high-risk tasks easier to assess because of the corresponding paperwork? Are the Ratings not confident because they lack training?
FOR SHORE-BASED STAFF: Avoid jumping to conclusions or giving unsolicited comments.
Ask: How are risk assessments conducted on board? Who takes part in risk assessments? What tools are used in risk assessments?
Do NOT ask: How come only the senior officers think positively about hazard identification? Maybe the ratings do not participate in risk assessment meetings?
Identify what needs to be done to address the gaps and improve the safety condition. For example, there may be a need to update the guidelines, to supply new equipment, or to conduct safety behaviour training.
FOR OFFICERS: Do not monopolise the decision-making process.
Do: Be sure all crew agree on the improvement needs.
Don’t: Limit responsibility to one rank.
FOR SHORE-BASED STAFF: Maintain a constructive mindset. Provide support whenever necessary.
Ask: How can the office be of help in conducting these development activities?
The example below illustrates a likely conclusion:
All crew agree that to improve the level of hazard identification skills, on-board training on this topic will be conducted. At least one senior officer will oversee the on-board training and shall discuss best practices for hazard identification based not only on set guidelines but also on shared experience. The Junior Officers shall make the Hazard Wheel available by printing and displaying the poster. The crew shall refer to the Hazard Wheel every time they conduct a risk assessment. All crew shall attend the on-board training and use the Hazard Wheel when making risk assessments.
Knowledge is the foundation of change. Increase knowledge and promote development of essential skills through continuous learning.
FOR OFFICERS: Lead the continuous development of the safety performance.
Do: Use the learning materials in the Safety Delta Learning Library (SDLL). Apply the learnings in actual work situations.
Don’t: Be complacent with old knowledge and habits.
FOR SHORE-BASED STAFF: Follow up on the development initiatives conducted on board.
Do: Engage with the crew even after the Dialogue stage.
Ask: How are the development initiatives going? What activities related to hazard identification have the crew conducted?
The example below illustrates a likely activity to take place:
From the SDLL, the crew identified the learning materials under Hazard Identification as primary tools for the on-board training. During risk assessment, the crew use the Hazard Wheel as a checklist to determine the situational and energy hazards.
We hope that this case will help you discuss the perception gap the next time you perform a dialogue based on the CSD report.