Getting the basics right lies at the very heart of safe lifting, and of the presentation that John Bradshaw, Technical Adviser at the International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA), will deliver on 19 April 2016 at the 21st International Offshore Crane and Lifting Conference in Aberdeen.
Lifting operations have long been recognised as being potentially hazardous activities. For this reason they are subject to statutory requirements and regulations intended to ensure they are performed in a safe and controlled manner.
“Despite the regulations and an offshore lifting sector which is both highly competent and that promotes a positive safety culture, incidents still happen,” John Bradshaw explains. “The number of lifting incidents reported to IMCA is small; and the safety record of offshore lifting is very good. However, most incidents reported to IMCA concern failures of a basic nature.
“Later this month I’ll be looking at several case studies which have been reported to IMCA, in each the incidents were not caused by unusual failures of esoteric technology, or unforeseeable events, but were caused by not getting the basics right, and could easily have been prevented.
“Despite this, and despite the causes being of a kind with which almost everybody in the lifting sector is familiar, I am eager to get over the message that the regrettable fact is that such incidents still happen. The offshore lifting sector doesn’t need a revolution in safety management, new technologies or ideas, but rather the effective, continuous application of existing safety management systems within a positive corporate safety culture. Or, to put simply, the industry needs to continue to pay attention to the basics of safe lifting.”
Help is readily to hand
Practical guidance is easy to obtain. As John Bradshaw will explain, government safety regulators publish guidance documents such as codes of practice, there are additionally standards rules, codes and guidance documents published by non-governmental bodies such as the standards organisations, trade associations, classification societies and learned bodies.
IMCA publishes guidance documents for lifting operations which are intended to promote self-regulation and good practice, and are available for download free of charge from the IMCA website. It also operates a safety incident reporting and notification system to raise awareness of safety issues; publishes annual safety statistics, and safety promotion material such as posters and pocket safety cards, some of which deal exclusively with safe lifting.
“Perhaps the single most important part of maintaining a safe work place is corporate safety culture. No safe system of work will be effective unless supported by a positive corporate safety culture. A stop work policy is only effective in an environment where staff have the confidence to apply the policy. Sometimes poor behaviours are driven by a desire to improve efficiency or to just get a job done, which in other circumstances would be commendable,” adds John Bradshaw.
“Operators need to take a robust approach to such practices and stress that the safe way of working is the only way of working. A positive culture should recognise that maintaining a safe workplace is a continuous, on-going commitment and not just a short term initiative. There is no silver bullet to eliminate incidents, no magic initiative or procedure is waiting to be discovered, safety is achieved by the continuing hard work and commitment of every person in an organisation.”