IMCA technical director Mark Ford explains how the organisation’s recent Lifting and Rigging seminars will help improve safety standards
The recent IMCA Lifting and Rigging seminar held in Amsterdam was themed ‘Offshore Lifting: Training, Certification and Competency’ and focused on the human aspects of these procedures, rather than the traditional ‘technical’ focus. The seminar was attended by crane manufacturers and operators, training establishments, and vessel owners/operators, with TechnipFMC playing a key role, both in developing the programme and on the day itself, with David Cannell in the chair.
Sessions covering ‘Codes for Certification/Training’, ‘Training Facilities/Courses and Certification’, and ‘Supplier Training and How New Technology is Introduced’ involved workshops as well as presentations, and ‘Current and Future Challenges for Crane Operators/Riggers’ ended with a lively panel discussion.
I set the scene in the Lifting & Rigging Seminar by talking about our Safety Bulletins aimed specifically at the sector, explaining that every event reported, including those that sadly led to two fatalities in the last 12 months, could be attributed to training, certification and competency issues.
Concerns about current standards relating to certification and training became evident during the workshops. The consensus among delegates was that standards for training have not moved forward for many years and are largely based on fixed-platform crane operations. This has led to most organisations developing their own training guidance, meaning there is now no common standard, no “one-size-fits-all” solution. An impromptu survey revealed the need to establish a global accreditation scheme for crane operators and moved on to consider a variety of options about the organisation best suited to develop such a scheme. Back came the delegates’ answer …. IMCA.
The final lifting workshop considered the potential standardisation of crane-cab controls across crane suppliers, which resulted in agreement that standardisation of safety-critical controls would aid operators in making split-second emergency decisions. Key alarm handling being standardised across manufacturers would also be beneficial, particularly for vessel owners/operators which rotate crew onto vessels with different crane systems.
The IMCA Marine Renewable Energy Seminar followed the next day and focused on ‘Working together for safe and efficient operations’ with sessions on: ‘Achieving harmonisation of training and certification’; ‘Openness is the key to safe and efficient operations’ and ‘Future trends in the marine renewable energy sector’. The discussion on differences in training standards between oil and gas and the renewable energy sector, plus the use by contractors of competence assurance techniques, will be used when IMCA addresses training requirements with duty holders.
The Marine Renewable Energy seminar, attended by a rich mix of representatives of offshore wind project developers, marine contractors, marine warranty surveyors, equipment suppliers and training establishments directly involved in marine renewable energy operations, also deep-dived into training and competence concerns. IMCA and other organisations such as G+, GWO, the UK’s HSE, IJUBOA and the Workboat Association worked closely together, and sessions highlighted the need for targeted and efficient training regimes to ensure training requirements in the offshore sector are not duplicated.
We often talk about safety being the silver thread running through everything that IMCA does on behalf of its global membership. In this instance, it was training, competence and certification that formed the common thread for both days – a combination that helps lead to ever-greater levels of safe and effective working.