In the Riviera Maritime Media webinar, Tanker safety, vetting inspections and Element 14 of TMSA, experts discussed the proposed Element 14 of the Tanker Management and Self-Assessment 3 (TMSA3), which is intended to provide enhanced tanker industry guidance on the human element
However the module is not complete, and no date has been set for its introduction. Safe Lanes head of marine assurance Nitin Gandhi, INTERTANKO vetting manager Frans Ubaghs, Ocean Technologies Group group creative director Raal Harris, and V.Ships global head of vetting Captain Ramesh Venkatraman discussed the status of Element 14 and what the tanker industry should do pending its introduction.
The Tanker safety, vetting inspections and Element 14 of TMSA webinar was sponsored by Safe Lanes and Ocean Technologies Group, with INTERTANKO the supporting organisation.
Mr Harris said the group, through its various brands such as Seagull and Videotel, had already been approached to provide support for Element 14. “Ocean Technologies Group has a lot of experience of working with hundreds of companies to meet compliance and, going beyond that, targets across assessment”, he said.
He noted that some companies were already working towards Element 14, which was a good thing as late starters might find they have a lot of work to do.
A poll showed there is a demand for Element 14, and by extension training and compliance information: 74% of those polled agreed there was a need to add a Human Element (Element 14) to the TMSA. The remaining 26% disagreed.
Mr Harris added there is a clear indication of what will be in Element 14 from OCIMF’s human factors approach document, which was built on five pillars of human performance:
Mr Harris noted the approach would have to be more interactive than simply directing crew to a page on a website. “Onboarding and familiarisation are going to be extremely important. We need to track much more effectively what’s actually understood and received,” he said.
It will need a different approach. “It means onsite learning, it means learning in the flow of work, as opposed to commoditised training off to one side.”
That new approach extends to a culture of continual learning and assessment not just on the ship, but across the organisation and embracing the application of competency management systems for shore-based personnel.
“We are used to learning from incidents as an industry. But learning before (an incident occurs) is a difficult concept for many,” said Mr Harris.
Mr Ubaghs commenced his presentation on the positive note that as an industry, the tanker sector has continued to lower the number and proportion of incidents while the fleet size has grown. “The good news, “ he said, “is that say 99% of time the commodities are transported without any issue and without being on the front page of a newspaper.”
He noted that a lot of progress was made in the 1980s and 1990s in the technology associated with safety, but since 2000 there has been a plateau and there is still some way to go to reduce the level of safety incidents further. The standout factor is human error, both on board the vessel and ashore. Therefore, noted Mr Ubaghs, it is logical to concentrate efforts on this area.
He pointed out the rapid changes in technology taking place on vessels means the lessons learned 10 years ago may no longer be applicable. Furthermore, change has to be agreed and driven by those it impacts. He believes the industry should learn from the introduction of OCIMF’s MEG4 mooring rope guidelines, which imposed unmeasurable standards on users.
He warned that stakeholders must take time to review and be involved in Element 14 and not see it as another standard that has to be met. “TMSA Element 14 will be proposed to the industry, and we will all have time to review it, and to give our comments via INTERTANKO or directly to OCIMF.”
The Tanker Management and Self Assessment (TMSA) programme provides companies with a means to improve and measure their own safety management systems and is in essence voluntary. However, TMSA scores are being required by some charterers as another tool by which to measure tanker operators.
In a poll, webinar delegates were asked which statement most closely aligns with their current outlook/practice. 45%: TMSA is a self-assessment tool. They should not ask for a minimum score. 32%: I am fine with the request and operate at the required level. 13%: For commercial reasons, I will provide them with the figures they need or want even if we are not there (yet). 10%: I am honest. If I am not at the required level, I might possibly miss the cargo/charter.
Captain Venkatraman noted that the existence of the OCIMF SIRE vetting process has probably contributed significantly to the reduction in tanker safety incidents. “The thinking in tanker circles is that SIRE inspections have contributed immensely towards improving operations of the ship,” he said.
Regarding the state-of-play with regards to SIRE inspections, these were originally to be renewed every six months, but due to the Covid-19 pandemic, not even the personnel from the terminal are allowed to step on board a tanker in many places. Fortunately, OCIMF has allowed remote inspections to take place, but as Captain Venkatraman pointed out, not all oil majors are happy with this.
In the webinar poll, delegates were asked which statement most closely aligned with their company’s policy outlook on remote SIRE inspections. 54%: Oil majors should allow and accept a remote SIRE inspection which alternates with a physical SIRE inspection every year. 26%: I understand the constraints and I am happy with that. A remote SIRE inspection can never replace a physical SIRE inspection. 20%: Remote SIRE inspections should always be taken into account and all should accept them.
Captain Venkatraman noted that V.Ships, like many other companies, has strict protocols in place, which follow the local and national legislation. This includes having quarters where seagoing staff can be quarantined, facilities to check and trace the crew and the testing before joining the vessel. When it comes to inspectors that do visit ships, there is not always visibility an inspector has been vaccinated, leading to crew insecurity. Captain Venkatraman added that SIRE inspections have evolved over time and the focus on the human element is not a threat – it is part of the same aim. “The human element is certainly going to sharpen people’s ability to deal with situations to undertake operations in a safe mode and carry out a good loading and discharging operations without an incident,” he said.
In a poll, delegates were asked, Which is a better option to review the navigation practices on board? 68% chose real-time navigation audit and 32% voyage data recording (VDR) analysis. When it comes to the human element in the VDR analysis, Mr Gandhi said, “How aware is the bridge team, the decision making, and the most important teamwork and communication?” This includes referencing how familiar the officers on board are with the equipment, how they do the tests and checks, and managing the alarms.
Having conducted over 1,000 VDR analysis audits, what are the most common gaps in the human factors? Mr Gandhi said, “The most common one is the master/pilot relationship, where we have often seen the information exchange is not adequate, and not in line with company procedures or industry practices,” he said.
In addition, there can be a lack of positive intervention by the master during the pilotage.
The second most common gap is ECDIS safety settings. “The understanding of safety depth and contours is still lacking in officers,” he said. “When (Safe Lanes) assesses the VDR reports, the ECDIS settings are not in line with requirements.” He noted the most important failing was in the use of the anti-grounding tool.
Poll: Are ECDIS courses of a sufficient standard that a navigating officer can operate the ECDIS on board from day one? Strongly agree 10%. Agree 43%. Neutral 22%. Disagree 21%. Strongly disagree 4%
This is often compounded by having too many options on the display. “We often see over-cluttering of display where lots of layers are selected which are not relevant to the navigation in that area,” he said.
Safe Lanes has observed a third gap: lack of interaction within the bridge team, especially at watch changeover. “The watch changeover is not done properly and in detail, and often this includes the con change over from master to duty officer and vice versa,” said Mr Gandhi.
He cited instances where the bridge team has recorded the main engine or the steering gear has been tested, but when you look at the parameters, these tests have not been done. How can this be remedied? One was for Safe Lanes to conduct remote navigation audits and ECDIS training. Another service offered by Safe Lanes is to rewrite company procedures to more end user-centric procedures with a low readability index for better understanding and implementation reverting to simpler formats, including bullets, flowcharts and tables.
In a poll delegates were asked, Company bridge procedures provide a simple and user friendly guidance for effective day-to-day operations. Strongly agree 29%. Agree 41%. Neutral 17%. Disagree 10%. Strongly disagree 3%.
Quick and easy to understand inputs are one of the keys, it would seem, to human factors on the bridge, but technology continues to move on. As Mr Ubaghs noted, the lessons learned from 10 years ago may not apply today. In his summing up, he said “We should embrace the science and all the stakeholders have not only to say that they are collaborating, but also to prove that they do.” He added that we should start with the premise that people do not want to make mistakes.
Mr Venkatraman’s takeaway was, “First, SIRE is beginning to undergo a good transformation. The second point is introducing human element learning to me is a continuous process towards improvement and the third aspect is the human element introduction is going to act as a catalyst for improving the safe operations of the vessels and staff.
Mr Gandhi cautioned that while improving the human factor was welcome, the key is not to rush. ”We should look at the systemic errors, rather than looking at the human errors,” he said.
Mr Harris’ noted the concern from some delegates that Element 14 was another standard to be met. He said, “The lens through which to regard the human factor Element 14 is how does the company wish to operate, how does the company see itself and what standards does it sets itself? Then communicate that message intelligently and in such a way that people really understand and take ownership of those processes. Then this (Element 14) will not be a burden, this will be a pathway to achieving better operations and a much more effective way of working.”