Fredrik Warrebäck is responsible for both work environment and safety

As ship safety officer, Fredrik Warrebäck is in charge of work environment activities onboard. The job is no one-man show, however, and he works in close cooperation with the chief safety officer who represents the different departments.
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As ship safety officer, Fredrik Warrebäck is in charge of work environment activities onboard. The job is no one-man show, however, and he works in close cooperation with the chief safety officer who represents the different departments.

Fredrik Warrebäck

Fredrik Warrebäck
Age: 30
An apartment in Varvsholmen, in the centre of Kalmar.
Partner and daughter Alva, almost one year old.
Second mate and ship safety officer for Broströms Bro Distributor.
completed his military service in the Coast Artillery in Karlskrona and then worked for a few years as an officer in the Swedish Armed Forces. Studied economics at college before the captain’s programme in Kalmar 2002–2006.
The most topical work environment question for me at the moment is:
a good atmosphere onboard, since that promotes a safer work environment.

Fredrik Warrebäck, 30, has worked on tankers for Broströms since he became qualified as a sea captain just over three years ago. When he moved to Bro Distributor in August last year as second mate, he was also given the job of ship safety officer.

– I am responsible for work environment and safety issues onboard. This covers everything from making sure that the crew uses safety equipment to keeping up-to-date with new laws and regulations, explains Fredrik.

While some other shipping companies choose to divide responsibility for safety and work environment between a number of posts onboard, Broströms have chosen to give the task to one person. Fredrik is 100% positive to the arrangement made by his shipping company.

– This is a very good system and I find it difficult to see how you could work efficiently in any other way. I spend quite a lot of time doing this – it takes about 1 1/2 hours a day to check the fire extinguishing equipment and medical stores, for example. When it comes to the work environment there are almost always things to do, and every time I am on deck I make sure that the crewmembers are working in a safe way and using the right safety equipment.

Most people listen in the end

Working as a newly qualified officer and being responsible for colleagues following work environment rules and using safety equipment can demand a lot of patience. But as Fredrik says, most of them accept the message sooner or later.

– Sometimes you have to be a little heavy-handed to make people listen. Even though they do not accept it the first or second time, in the end most of them do. Probably people realise that it is in their own interest to work in a safe way, and that the rules actually do fulfil an important function.

– And it is important to take those few extra minutes to fetch some safety glasses when you are going to mix some paint, or put on a harness when it is needed. Even a fall of half a metre can cause serious injuries if you land badly.

In his position as ship safety officer, Fredrik must also find solutions to different work environment problems. Shortcomings can sometimes be put right immediately. Others require larger and more costly measures to be taken.

– Last time we were in the shipyard we re-routed the deck grating to make it easier to cross it without tripping. A lot of welding was required and it probably took a week before it was all finished. To do jobs like this you have to plan ahead and make sure they are on the shipyard list before the ship is taken in for work.

Work environment activities are no one-man show, however. Even though Fredrik is the connecting link, he works in close cooperation with the chief safety officer and other colleagues. Every department has a representative for work environment issues and they pass on information to the safety officers and to Fredrik. Once a month he carries out a safety round together with a representative from the department in question, and afterwards there is a safety committee meeting. Every third month there is a large meeting with the whole crew.

– Good work environment activities require co-operation and communication, says Fredrik. I keep the captain updated on what is happening, and above all he must know whether there are any deficiencies onboard. I also have contact with the shipping company office.

Diamond makes the work easier

Crews at Broströms use the internal reporting system called Diamond for work environment and safety activities. All faults and measures are entered into the system so that other colleagues in the fleet are able to read them. If a serious fault is discovered, it is reported immediately to the shipping company and described in a mail which is sent to all ships.

– The last time I was onboard we received a mail about an incident that took place during an exercise with a rescue boat on one of the company’s ships. On another boat it had been noticed that a shackle which should have been in stainless steel was not, and we also received a mail about that. Everybody onboard can use Diamond and for new hands it is a good tool for quickly getting to know about work environment activities, says Fredrik.

He explains that there were quite a lot of work environment studies in his sea captain’s course. They also had practical exercises in measuring noise levels, light and gases, but he has learned about most work environment issues onboard.

– When you are at school and discussing the work environment at sea it is difficult to apply the knowledge to real situations. What I learned at college would never have been enough for me to sail as a competent safety officer, and I have taken a number of courses since then. On the other hand, what you can learn during a course is how to search for information and read regulations.

Linda Sundgren

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