Strong agenda results in successful NIBC Conference

By BCShippingNews
June 9 2017
Left to right: Dermot Loughnlane (Tactical Marine); Rear Admiral Art McDonald (Maritime Forces Pacific); RAdm Nigel Greenwood (Ret'd); RAdm Roger Girouard (Ret'd) (Canadian Coast Guard); and Captain Kevin Obermeyer (Pacific Pilotage Authority).
With the theme of "Managing Marine Risks in the Pacific Northwest," the holistic approach gave attendees much to consider.

Feedback from all who attended the Nautical Institute BC Branch 2017 Conference consistently referenced the well-organized and relevant agenda when considering the event’s success. With the theme of “Managing Marine Risks in the Pacific Northwest,” the holistic approach that covered all aspects of risk management – from human and operational factors, to legal and insurance considerations, to tools, education and specific examples of risk mitigation – gave attendees much to consider from a roster of speakers from around the world who are experts in their respective fields.

Photo above: Left to right: Dermot Loughnlane (Tactical Marine); Rear Admiral Art McDonald (Maritime Forces Pacific); RAdm Nigel Greenwood (Ret'd); RAdm Roger Girouard (Ret'd) (Canadian Coast Guard); and Captain Kevin Obermeyer (Pacific Pilotage Authority).

Click here for more photos.

Proceedings commenced with welcomes from both Rear Admiral Nigel Greenwood, RCN (Ret’d) FNI, Chair of the Branch and Captain David (Duke) Snider, FNI, President, the Nautical Institute.  Captain Snider gave a very touching tribute to Captain Zaki Farid, FNI, who passed away in April at the age of 83 and contributed immensely to the work and objectives of the Nautical Institute.

Captain Snider began the formal conference as the Chair for the morning session. The keynote introductory address was by Bart Reynolds, President, Seaspan Marine, who started by highlighting the “things that keep me up at night” – harm to people, harm to assets and equipment, and harm to the environment. He referenced documented statistics that showed vast improvements in the shipping industry over the last 20 years for all three subjects:

  • A continuing downward trend of injury rates, highlighting the vastly improved statistics in the marine and oil and gas sectors.
  • The dramatic drop in the number of vessels lost, noting that 2016 was a record year for safety.
  • The drop in the number of incidents involving tankers carrying more than 700 tonnes of oil (and this drop despite the fact that more oil was being shipped every year).

From the oil and gas sector and the tanker industry, Reynolds was able to illustrate how the evolution of safety systems, including basic safety programs; a commitment on behalf of the industry to the fundamental of safety training, reporting, supervision, communications and job safety analysis; advanced safety management systems that allowed for data analysis, accountability, best practices and the sharing of lessons learned; and a specialized focus on behavioral factors such as fatigue and resilience.

Recognizing that lessons can be taken from other industries and applied to the shipping sector, Sandra Parkins, who has spent over two decades working in health care, education and government and is now a freelance risk management strategist, provided key insights into those sectors and demonstrated how a focus on greater communication, best practices and professional development led to overall improvements in work safety conditions. She identified hierarchical structures and excessive deference to authority as impediments to improved safety in the health care industry.

Looking more closely at the human equation of risk management, Captain Yves Vandenborn, Director of Loss Prevention, The Standard Club, outlined the most frequent causes of accidents that were found in a review of claims – for example, complacency and shortcuts that became the norm but moved crew away from tried and trusted procedures. “It is in our nature to take risks,” Vandenborn said, “and we rely on autonomous responses where the brain makes decision without conscious thought.”

While the trend for major casualties was on the decrease, Vandenborn highlighted cases where procedures formalized in safety management systems had been ignored; where training had not been structured; where near miss reports were no longer submitted; and where overall compliance with safety management systems was not followed.

In looking for solutions to those circumstances where safety systems fail because of crew behaviour, Vandenborn recommended that safety schemes be easy to understand and easy to use and that the “just” culture (i.e. an accountable culture) must be driven from the senior executive level to show crew that is an important aspect of their job. Crew must be trained to understand why it is important to follow procedures and they must be taught to expect the unexpected – for example, safety drills should be a surprise and based on realistic scenarios.

Explaining in more detail the concept of “just culture,” Nippin Anand, Principal Specialist in safety management, described real-life examples of hazardous procedures that “99.9 per cent of the time, resulted in successful operations,” but for that one instance, the same procedure went terribly wrong. Using the FRAM model and principles, Anand went on to outline the principles of the FRAM model – Functional Resonance Analysis Method – which illustrated how each component of a procedure or operation interacted with the next. “You must study normal procedures rather than the accident,” he said, “because the accident occurred during normal procedures.”

An interesting discussion that followed Anand’s presentation raised the issue of the human element as the root of the majority of incidents and the statistic that hasn’t changed over the years despite the development of new programs and initiatives. Attendees also queried Anand on how to balance accountability within structures.

During lunch, Bikram Kanjilal, lead marine development consultant for the Trans Mountain Expansion Project, gave an overview of the project and then outlined the safety measures being implemented to reduce risks. In sharing how Trans Mountain was addressing safety, Kanjilal highlighted how they were going “over and above” current regulations to meet the National Energy Board’s 157 conditions, many of which focus on the marine aspects of the project. He emphasized shared learning practices, guarding against complacency and taking time to engage with community stakeholders. He also indicated that the capabilities of tugs in the region would need to be increased.

Nigel Greenwood chaired the afternoon session, beginning with a highlight of the conference, the Senior Leaders Panel, featuring Assistant Commissioner Roger Girouard, Canadian Coast Guard Western Region; Rear Admiral Art McDonald, Commander, Maritime Forces Pacific; Captain Kevin Obermeyer, President, Pacific Pilotage Authority; and Dermot Loughane, Tactical Marine Solutions. Each panelist gave their perspective on risk and what, as a leader, it takes to manage and mitigate that risk. Important take-aways from the session included how it was important to identify all operational risks and ensure appropriate capacity was in place to not only mitigate the risk but provide an effective response should the need arise. While each panelist brought a unique perspective based on the responsibilities of their organizations, it was clear that communication, training, and a commitment from senior executives were required factors to foster a culture of safety.

Following the panel session, Captain Ramanbir Mangat, Senior Marine Investigator for the Transportation Safety Board (TSB), gave an overview of TSB investigations which included an initial assessment to build the sequence of events of an incident. He used the analogy of “Swiss cheese” in describing how incidents were rarely the result of one individual factor but that an analysis of events was important in identifying risks and recommending mitigation measures to avoid future occurrences. Emerging issues for TSB were fishing vessels, small passenger vessels and tugboats smaller than 15 GRT.

Shelley Chapelski of Norton Rose Fulbright LLP led off the last session of the day which looked at legal, analytical and insurance aspects of risk management. Chapelski encouraged leaders to look beyond their own “sandbox” when considering all aspects of risk. The interconnectedness of the supply chain meant that operations in one area could very easily lead to risks in another, noting that a “domino effect” was quite possible should the vulnerabilities of one partner be exploited. She further encouraged stakeholders to pay attention to clauses in legal contracts that download risks onto those partners: “If your first thought is ‘this will never happen,’ don’t sign the contract,” she urged. She reflected on the increasing role of the legal community in identifying risks for clients.

James Reid, Managing Director, Acuratek Inc., looked at risks associated with automation. He used the example of a hands-free mooring system to demonstrate the process of analyzing risks and, through predictive and preventative maintenance, identify options to mitigate incidents. In reviewing the impact of new technologies on the shipping industry and the risks that might occur, Reid stressed the importance of change management.

Wrapping up the day, Adam Parry-Wingfield and Duncan Cox from Marsh Canada brought the insurance perspective of managing risk to the forefront. With both theory and real-life examples, the team outlined the importance of balancing risk management with program design and the elements of management, including crisis management, business continuity and ensuring a plan for recovery should an incident occur.

Conference attendees were treated to a presentation at dinner from Captain Jamie Marshall, Vice President, Marine Operations, BC Ferries, who gave an entertaining yet informative overview of the steps taken within the corporation to engage staff and encourage the development of a safety culture. Programs like SailSafe, standardized training and the use of simulators were resulting in measurable decreases of safety incidents. Most importantly, and echoing the words of past speakers, Marshall stressed the importance of buy-in at senior executive levels. It was an important night for Marshall who was also received his fellowship designation from the NIBC.

With Robert Lewis-Manning, President, Chamber of Shipping, chairing the morning session of the second day, speakers focused on specific examples of how risk management factored into their operations and the tools available to mitigate those risks. Tero Vauraste from Arctia Ltd. touched on “risk perception” and the need to encourage crew members to explore anything that appeared suspicious. He also emphasized the inherent danger of over reliance on new technology. John Riding, Managing Director of MARICO Marine, looked at ways of identifying risks through hydrography, taking into account key economic areas and populations as well as areas of cultural importance or with greater potential for damage to the environment.

Ivana Kubat, Team Leader Ice Mechanics, National Research Council of Canada, demonstrated the tools available to the industry that provided an additional level of risk assessment. Specifically, she featured the Canadian Arctic Shipping Risk Assessment Solution (CASRAS) website portal where stakeholders could easily access various types of data. The framework was essentially a database with data sets that could be explored or where additional variables could be inputted to generate specific risk assessments, resulting in a report in pdf or html format.

The next two speakers focussed on training the next generation – Captain Kevin Greenwood RCN (Ret’d) and Captain Philip McCarter brought perspectives from the Royal Canadian Navy and BCIT’s Marine Campus respectively. In developing risk decision-making skills for sea command, Captain Greenwood’s discussion centred around the differences between experience and teaching risk decision making. Outlining the four pillars of the RCN’s command course (leader, mariner, warrior, and manager), he noted that the success rate for passing the course increased with the exposure to leaders and seeing how they made their decisions. Another key factor to success was “feeling that you’re ready” and that recognizing one’s own biases were an important part of the decision-making process. McCarter echoed that thought by emphasizing that risk was an inherent part of everything we do and that risk management was fraught with subjectivity. He noted that the basic contents of any training program should include three domains: cognitive (i.e., understanding), affective (i.e., “gut feel”), and psychomotor (knowledge of the process). In terms of teaching risk management, students must learn to assess, quantify, analyze, evaluate and monitor. McCarter called for a re-think within Transport Canada to provide for greater definition for teachers as they develop courses on risk management. In closing, he suggested that “risk assessment and management is in the hands of the industry rather than the learning institutions.

Captain Stanley Bowles, FNI, chaired the final conference session. Closing out the conference, Keith Taylor, Vice President Operations, Holland America, and Captains Victor Gronmyr and Kent Reid with the Canadian Coast Guard, provided an overview of specific ways in which each addressed risk management within their organizations. The practical applications of risk management were implemented through planning and assessment exercises where having the right information in a timely manner was instrumental to the decision-making process. Captain Reid looked at how the CCG had developed a risk assessment framework which was used as a toolbox, layering strategic, operational, occupational and tactical risks which could be used to develop a “library” that would maintain knowledge. An effective toolbox would result in the identification of risks, leading to the development of a mitigation strategy.

While the above summary can’t possibly capture the full relevance of each presentation, by providing insights and general overviews, the hope is that we’ve provided enough information to arouse interest in the subject of risk management and mitigation. Time and time again, key themes of the human equation and guarding against complacency, communication, competency through training but also through experience, and building a framework (both socially and operationally) that engages crew through involvement and awareness were raised.

In evaluating the success of the event, consensus from attendees was that the NIBC Conference Committee (Nigel Greenwood, Duke Snider, Christian Frappell, Angus Fedoruk, Kelly Larkin, and John Roberts) did an outstanding job in developing a forum for discussion and inspiration for further action to manage marine risks in the Pacific Northwest.