Behaviour Based Safety: The right way to safety!

Regulations aiming to improve safety have been in force for many years now and today the use of new technologies are contributing to the reduction of accidents, but it is still human factors, such as inadequate skills or insufficient competence in key areas, that are found to be at the root of the majority of maritime accidents.

This means that rules and management systems are only as effective as the personnel that are implementing them. Investing time in building up a “Behaviour Based Safety” culture within your company is the best way to ensure that people react appropriately at those crucial moments. There is also an economic advantage if this investment leads to the reduction of incidences of human error in the longer term.

It was during IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee session (MSC 92) in 2013, that the prime cause for the Costa Concordia accident was identified as the “Unconventional Behaviour of the Captain”, underlying once again the importance of identifying safe and unsafe behaviour as well as understanding human failure in terms of causes and consequences.

Safety research, over the last century, has been consistent in pointing out that human error is the prime contributing factor in the majority of casualties in the maritime industry. From the accident of the Titanic to that of the Costa Concordia, seafarers are apt to behave during critical situations according to the same apparently “wrong” mental model.

Although the introduction of technology in shipping aims at improving a ship’s competitiveness and reducing the occurrence of unwanted incidents, seafarers seem not to follow the same rhythm of evolution, due to human limitations.

Behaviour Based Safety (BBS) is a modern answer to this challenge for the maritime industry. BBS is an evolving process that uses positive reinforcement to change unsafe behaviour on the part of the individual and improve safety performance, as part of a positive safety culture. In its effort to provide the maritime industry with training that builds competence and promotes the safety culture DNV GL’s Maritime Academy has a new course on Behaviour Based Safety in its portfolio. At the initiative of Maritime Academy Hellas this course has already been successfully delivered ten times in 2015.

The participants’ high level of satisfaction with this training is reflected in the average recommendation score of 9.5 out of 10.

Neda Maritime Agency, one of the participating companies, made the following comment: “Safety is our top priority in everything that we do at Neda Maritime”, said Neda’s Quality & Training Manager, Maria Christopoulou. “Through DNV GL’s Behaviour Based Safety courses, we do not only improve our personal safety leadership skills but most importantly, influence and remodel the ways our sefarers work, learn and behave in keeping each other safe from harm.

The course trainer, George Lykos, defines BBS as “α systematic process to identify, measure and eventually change seafarers’ at-risk behaviours towards a safe direction”. Mr Lykos, explains that its purpose is to find the root causes of accidents and the related behaviours. BBS is about creating a holistic safety system that reflects an ongoing and proactive approach to safety. The introduction of a BBS strategy will really make a difference and help a shipping company to ensure that its safety approach is on the right track, rather than just reacting when things go wrong. Safety is a continuous fight with human nature; BBS will decisively help participants to overcome their natural tendencies making it easier for an organization to build a stronger safety culture. According to the participants so far “BBS is the right approach for safety because we should not suffer from accidents and then regulate; we should rather observe and eventually change the unsafe behaviours”.

You can read more about the course and how to positively affect human behavior leading to a safer and more efficient working environment on our website.

For further information and/or in-house course offers please contact your local Academy.