The importance of investing in safety in marine operations


Safety at Wilson Sons – the largest port and maritime logistics operator in the Brazilian market – is much more than sweetened words. It is a strategic value, which encompasses the entire organization for the development of a culture of employee integrity, environmental preservation and operational risk management. Ultimately, this translates not only into ESG (Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance) development, but also into benefits for all its public relations, especially its employees and customers.

Port and maritime operations are subject to various types of risks that, if not managed, can negatively affect all parties involved. In 2020 alone, more than 900 serious maritime accidents were recorded worldwide, according to Maritime Bulletin. And since the beginning of 2010, 950 total ship losses have already been recorded, according to the 2020 study by Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (AGCS).

So the figures are impressive: Wilson Sons completes a year without injury accidents in the towing division. This period corresponds to four million hours worked in operations totaling more than 55,000 maneuvers. The unit has a fleet of 80 tugs and more than 800 employees.

The company’s data also show other achievements. Wilson Sons’ towing division managed to reduce the frequency rate of accidents with injuries by more than 97% in the last decade. In recognition of its commitment to the issue, it achieved world-class safety status, a standard of excellence set by DuPont, the industry’s leading global consulting firm.

The milestone came about because accidents with injuries had a frequency rate (number of accidents per million hours worked) of 0.29 last year and 0.41 in the three-year period. Both indicators are below the index of 0.50, a parameter for a company’s performance to be considered world class.

“This is an expressive result that demonstrates the company’s ability to manage risks and, above all, to take care of the health and integrity of our employees and the environment. For customers, a company with these results represents efficiency in operation, credibility and trust in relationships,” says Marcio Castro, executive director of the Towing division.

Investments in campaigns, technology and training

Considering the most recent efforts – the last two years, for example – the company has 15 campaigns dedicated to health, environment and safety and 18,000 hours of training.

There are several examples of how technology has helped Towage’s unit surpass efficiency marks in this regard.

Digital records of “Safety Dialogues and Behavioral Observations” made by ship masters are stored in the cloud. This data is processed to obtain information and identify recurring employee deviations, enabling rapid actions to be planned to reduce potential risks. Technology support continues, with cameras installed on deck and in the engine room of the tugboats – locations where there is the greatest exposure to risk – allowing deviations to be identified and corrected, and contributing to more effective investigation in cases of accidents and incidents.

The Towing Operations Center (COR), created in 2011, monitors vessels 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, in 25 ports along the Brazilian coast. With the help of the COR, maneuver planning is carried out, ensuring that navigation takes place at the most appropriate time, at the speed established for greater fuel efficiency, and through waterways free of any obstacles. An audible alarm sounds in the Operations Center whenever the schedule is not strictly followed by the vessels.

Another ally in achieving high safety performance is the company’s Maritime Improvement Center (MEC). There, regular training of professionals and project-specific campaigns for customers and other stakeholders are conducted through Wilson Sons’ own maneuvering simulator, capable of providing different operational scenarios.

Active involvement of senior management

The Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) culture has been strengthened in the company since 2011, when Wilson Sons created the WS+ Program in all Group units. The objective was to create a strong safety culture, through development and commitment based on the recognition of each employee’s responsibilities, the role of leadership being a visible and perceived example, discipline for compliance, management of deviations and governance of safety performance.

Actions and initiatives directly involve the highest levels of management. A prominent example is the monthly meeting, called Safety Tuesday 9, created in 2019. In these meetings, which are held religiously on the third Tuesday of the month at 9 a.m., the executive and operations directors of the business present indicators, best practices, campaigns and relevant safety topics, through a live presentation that are accompanied by a large part of the employees along the entire Brazilian coast.

To ensure that employees have a safe working environment at all times, the towing division also implements effective HSE communication, intensified and improved in both form and content. Various channels are used to disseminate the message, especially the corporate social network (JAM), a fundamental tool in the multiplication of good HSE practices.

On another front, games with simulations for identifying and correcting deviations, demonstrating safe behavior on board, help to engage employees in the commitment. Short HSE videos on rules and instructions related to health, environment and safety issues are also frequently shown, as well as the HSE Alert podcast, which broadcasts incident and accident reports and lessons learned.

The commitment to safety comes in response to society’s increased awareness, which demands corporate behavior aligned with best governance practices in addition to social and environmental responsibility. Wilson Sons, which shares this corporate vision, has been reaping positive results in customer, employee and supplier satisfaction and in delivery to shareholders. All efforts and results demonstrate that safety is a value at Wilson Sons.

Source gCaptain

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