Utkilen is a shipping company based in Bergen, Norway, operating 22 chemical tankers. About 500 seagoing personnel work on board their vessels, and there are around 50 employees in the shore-based organisation, with offices in Bergen, Riga, and Manila.
In 2019, Utkilen decided to embark on Safety Delta. Unfortunately, the COVID pandemic delayed the startup of Safety Delta a lot, especially because they wanted to make a thorough introduction before they rolled out the first cycle.
According to Roy Haare, Quality and Sustainability Manager in Utkilen, good safety records are also a valid reason to become a Safety Delta client:
“I wasn’t so focused on the actual result, like it was a KPI or an objective. In fact, there was no obvious “reason” to start with Safety Delta, but that’s a more complacent way of looking at it. We wanted to be proactive and use those three LTI-free years to react to the chronic unease, saying, “Ok, something can happen any minute now.” That’s why we implemented Safety Delta. It wasn’t so much the target but more to shake the tree a little bit to make sure that we are not complacent and to keep our focus alive.”
In Utkilen there is a prevailing change mentality, but in order to get everyone on board from the beginning—also those who might be sceptical—Roy Haare travelled to many of the vessels to pave the way for Safety Delta. The shore-based staff went through the Safety Delta familiarisation courses conducted by Green-Jakobsen.
“We had teasers, conferences and sessions internally before Green-Jakobsen took over. The training, tools, booklets and manuals were all very nice, and the familiarisation was a success for sure”.
Apart from the familiarisation process, Utkilen has only run one cycle so far, but they are planning to have 2 in 2023. Therefore, the annual report has not yet given much indication of progress.
But Roy Haare mentions: “I think that the tools you have, especially for the superintendents who have the responsibility for following up, have made it easier. Starting up with one Safety Area module, Risk Management, is kickstarting it and giving the superintendents responsibility to follow up on the safety culture on board, emphasising that it is not just relying on the HSEQ“.
With Safety Delta, the intention is to provide a strong management tool to the seafarers and leaders on board to make it easier to see where they have differences or where there are issues to improve on.
Despite the short experience with Safety Delta, there have been useful observations from the first Crew Safety Diagnosis reports. “The different opinions of the seniors and the juniors and the ratings have surprised us. Some vessels also had surprisingly low scores —lower than the usual Utkilen standard. But then you have to not use this as a KPI and go on board the vessels straight away – because that is the gut instinct that you get: “Okay, I have to go on board and talk to these guys”. It is vital to use this as a management tool and an improvement tool to make sure they talk about the issues rather than be KPI-fixated”.
Some of the areas that seem attractive for the coming cycles, besides Risk Management, are the modules that deal with mental health and crew welfare. The choice of which building blocks to include next will be discussed with the Safety Delta admin team.
“The module we had (Risk Management) is strictly safety and making sure that everyone is heard and making things better, but the different modules on cooperation, leadership, and a happier ship mean that Safety Delta can improve not only safety areas but also cooperation and the environment on board—the inter-human relationships.”
When the vessels have undergone more cycles, there will be more data to learn from. In particular, Roy Haare finds it interesting that each vessel will have to work with their individual issues instead of being lumped together in a more generic safety campaign, for example. “But then again, it’s about shaking the tree, and that we talk about safety in the office and on the vessel and giving it a common language—it’s very positive”.
“The results and overview given in the annual reports shall be part of the agenda for future Officers’ Seminars and the office management review. It will be interesting to see the development over time”.
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