Latest Newsletter: Louise’s Blog…..March 2017

 louise deehan-Owen

Welcome to our newsletter page. NZMS Senior Lecturer Louise Deehan-Owen will be blogging regularly on this page to keep students and graduates up to date on issues which concern the “local skipper” market. Members who register online on the website will receive an email when a new blog is posted.

Check back on a regular basis to this page for the latest from Louise, and don’t hold back on telling us whether you agree or disagree, and whether you like the topics which she is addressing. We always welcome member feedback, so join the conversation and help to make this websitwe active and interesting for you and your colleagues.


The heralding of the New Year has always been a motivating influence for us to review where we are at personally. Professionally, the New Year may also see some of us reviewing the policies, emergency and operating procedures that were developed when the company or vessel entered into MOSS.

It has been asked why bother with reviewing these procedures? Most feel that safety and compliance are the only reasons – with little other benefits. The reality is that things change. What was done before may now be behind the rest of industry practice. There may have been new equipment developed, new information, new rules or regulations, changes to the vessel, crew structure or just new learning.

The Vessel procedures help to direct the Master as to the Owners’ expectations and provide operational guidelines. As well as dealing with hazardous operations effectively, procedures provide a means to address time, operational efficiency, cost effectiveness, crew planning and training. They should be an ongoing resource on board for all crew.

For these procedures to be effective, they need to be developed by the vessel owners and implemented with the crew, using language which is easy to understand, in a format that is quick to reference and useful to those on the vessel. Nothing beats a collaborative approach- including all crew in these reviews to get effective buy in, especially if change is required. Following that up with training, trialling and feedback is of most benefit.

In Australia, data was recently published stating that more companies were prosecuted under the Health and Safety legislation for not following their own procedures, rather than for breaches of the legislation, or the actual accidents which occurred in their workplace.

With New Zealand legislation following similar lines, that information is thought provoking. Owners need to be sure that their Masters are following their procedures and that they are an accurate representation of the workflow on board. Masters must ensure that their crew are doing the same.

In developing and reviewing procedures, we also ned to be aware that as humans we unconsciously seek to confirm that things set down in our procedures are happening. We often fail to acknowledge those clues that indicate things are not going according to plan.

For this reason we must guard against making our procedures a “ How to” guide that gives us step by step instructions that enable us to put a person without sufficient knowledge or experience into a situation of carrying out a procedure they are not proficient to discharge.

Too often we hear the words “I did not see that coming” when others are trying to warn of impending failure. Even with great procedures, a mariner’s ability to operate safely and effectively comes from time invested, training, reflection and experiences.

Best wishes