The quality varies and the work has reached different levels, but five years after the Work Environment Act was passed most crews have started work with Systematic work environment management (SAM).
Jörgen Hansson works at the Marine Safety Inspectorate in Malmö and is responsible for work environments onboard. Here are the most common deficiencies in terms of SAM that he notices when he inspects ships:
• Product information sheets for chemicals missing.
• It is not noted when a risk must be rectified, or who is responsible for doing so.
• The galley is forgotten. In many cases the work environment in the machine room and on deck is described in detail, whereas the kitchen has been missed.
• Risk assessments are far too detailed.
Shipping companies with large resources and onshore ship management are in the lead. Risk assessments have been made and action plans drawn up for ferry traffic, tanker ships and other large vessels. SAM has become an integrated part of safety work and functions relatively well.
– I wouldn’t say that we have achieved our goal yet, and the quality of systems varies. But all Sola ships have implemented SAM, says Jan Borgman, chief inspector at the Maritime Safety Inspectorate in Göteborg.
More incorporate SAM in ISM
Those shipping companies that already follow the ISM code recognise systematic work environment management. Risk assessments and deviations are listed in similar ways in both systems, and many have also chosen to incorporate SAM in the ISM system.
– For us it makes no difference if the systems are merged or if there is a separate SAM file. But considering how much work many people have already done with the ISM system, it is a shame not to use it, says Gunnar Zahlée, chief inspector at the Maritime Safety Inspectorate in Malmö.
The part of the fleet that has made greatest headway with SAM is passenger vessels. They not only have large onshore organisations to help them, but also the advantage of having their ships relatively accessible.
– Passenger ferries are state of the art. They also have great pressure from their passengers, who demand a high level of safety, says Jan Borgman.
Freight shipping companies and fishing fleets lagging behind
Things are a little worse at smaller freight shipping companies and in fishing fleets. A lot of measures remain to be taken in these categories.
– On some smaller ships personnel do not really see the benefits of this type of system. Things are moving slowly there, admits Gunnar Zahlée.
A common preconception among those who have not yet started SAM is that it is complicated and difficult. But Gunnar Zahlée claims that it is not particularly baffling.
– I usually say, do what you have always done but now just write it down as well.
Some people are put off by the paperwork which is an inevitable part of SAM, a feeling that Jan Borgman has some understanding for.
– I don’t really imagine there is anybody against having a better work environment and fewer accidents and injuries. But the paperwork puts many people off. They are already drowning in papers and along comes one more thing.
When SAM is fully operational, staff in Malmö and Göteborg believe that it will definitely improve the work environment.
– I think that this will make people more observant of their work and maybe a little more careful. But above all it is good for new employees, who can easily gain an oversight of work onboard, says Gunnar Zahlée.