Is this our safety culture?

Some senior officers experience that when they present the vessels’ CSD report to their fellow officers and crew, they are met with the claim that the report is not true: ‘This is not our safety culture’.

Why do they have that perception?

Crew may have many explanations for the report to be untrue. The ones we often hear are:

  • “The survey questions are tricky”
  • “My English is not so good, so I didn’t understand the questions”
  • “I answered according to my latest vessel”

In some cases, this leads to the conclusion that if crew misunderstand the questions, their answers are not true and consequently the report results do not reflect the true safety culture. But there is another way of understanding the crew’s explanations.

A comfortable way out of a difficulty

We cannot say that the explanations are not true – and we have an on-going focus on improving the questions. But we also see cases where the crew uses these kinds of explanations to avoid a difficult dialogue and an uncomfortable situation.

For example, we had  vessel that received a report with low scores on leadership. The crew felt uncomforable talking to htier leaders about the poor scores as they feared their leaders’ reactions. Therefore, they used the explanationsn as a comfortable way out of this difficult situation.

How to use the report anyway

If you experience that the crew or senior management do not believe in or acknowledge the report results, don’t give up.

The report can still be used as a starting point for a dialogue about safety. For example, simply talk about the areas where the crew feel the report differs from their understanding of the safety culture and why they think this is the case. This in itself is a valuable dialogue to have as it brings subjects on the table that may otherwise be ignored.

To support you, we have prepared a set of questions that you could ask among the crew during the dialogue:

In which areas does the report not reflect our culture?

For each mentioned area, you can ask:

How do you feel we are doing in this area?
What are we good at?
What could we still improve?

Are there any of the results in the report you agree with?

For each mentioned area, you can ask:

Can you give examples of what you/we do that makes you agree with the results?
What are we good at within this area?
Is there anything we could do better/improve?
Do you have any idea of how we can transfer our good efforts to other areas?

What can we do to develop and improve our safety?

Based on what we have talked about:

What do you think could be relevant to develop or strengthen?
How should we develop? On board training? Update our work processes? Other ideas?
What can we start doing already tomorrow?

In addition to this, you can also:

Split the crew into smaller groups when conducting the dialogue. This will make it more comfortable for the crew to speak up, as it gives them the opportunity to present a shared group answer. Especially, forming the groups based on ranks and/or nationalities could be beneficial.
If you sense a lot of concern or resistance related to a specific area, for example Safety Leadership, you could focus more on other areas and less on this particular area for now.
Among Us
Among Us is a monthly digital newsletter, primarily for Safety Delta members, but also for those who want to get a ‘sneak peek’ at the experiences gained by those of us who are already ‘insiders’. It also presents the developments of Safety Delta.
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