Capt. Richard Teo
FNI FCILT MAICD
Managing Risks on board ships
In recent times, there have been much ado about “Managing Risks” on board ships and the ship- operator industry’s responsibility and accountability. There is a
perceptible nervous approach to design, procedures and the processes in risk management. Many operators have purchased software off the shelf, providing little or no training for staff and crew. For those endeavoring to come to terms with this growing complexity, I urge readers to obtain a copy of the ISO AS/NZS 31000:2009 Risk Management Standards (as amended) plus all other associated literature (guidelines, audit etc.), that pertains to this very important management tool. This standard was developed from the original Australian/New Zealand
Know how risks are managed
Accrue a thorough knowledge of the way that risks are measured and assessed and then treated before you attend any of the courses floating around by various vendors. The pretraining programme readings will provide for rich interchange
between the facilitator and the participants as the occasion takes on a “learner-centred” approach. There is just too much “teacher-centred” training in the market place and this does become serious concerns when qualitative transferring of skills
and competences do not happen, only knowledge by rote privileging inconsequential tests and examinations.
Risk management vs managing risk
Let us first examine the meaning of Risk Management and Managing Risk. The standard explains that in general terms, “risk management” refers to the architecture (principles, framework and process) for managing risks effectively. “Managing Risks” refers to applying that architecture to particular risks. This
technique may be applied to existing regulatory systems currently in use within the maritime context.
Over dependence on checklists for risk management
The ISM Code remains the mainstay of how a ship is to be managed. Feedback reflects sometimes on dubious ways in which Port State Control inspections and ISM/SSM audits are conducted in certain parts of the world. There is probably an
emerging need to unlearn some of the stale current practices, e.g. over dependence on checklists in lieu of standard process management techniques. Perhaps it is timely that we begin to take stock of whether learning and experience occurred, and reflect on the experiences. We may just have to learn how to learn,
unlearn some misrepresentations and to relearn altogether, so that we may institute the ISM Code, Safety Management System and Quality Management System with a well-designed risk managed approach that is also Quality Assured within the same framework. Not as it seems, fulfilling mandatory activities via
checklists and tick-flicks to satisfy the auditor.
A need for a well designed risk management process
Common sense and prudence questions the need for three systems that add to the unnecessary complexity. A well designed process management system that incorporates all three as a “Standard Operating Procedure-SOP” would simplify the overall management and activities thereof. It would eliminate much of the duplication of paper work that Masters and Officers are subjected to. Evidence properly gathered, monitored and actioned on a continuous basis in one document folder may now not only be viewed and assessed in one audit, or inspection
but also provide records of the learned outcomes for training and other further uses.
Taking a few steps back
But first, we should take a few steps backwards and see how the systems merchants have penetrated this very vulnerable but lucrative maritime market. More about this is envisaged in the next installment of this article. Certainly the author encourages readers to write in and give your valuable experiences and
Capt Richard Teo
ISO 31000 Risk Management
Meanwhile, this article will be the first in a series of topics that may enlighten mariners on this rather important evolution and standard, called Risk Management. This knowledge, skill and praxis practice requires a few select competences not found in the STCW code. These are however desirous for practicing seafarers across the rankings,
As an aid to mariners, some of the terms, in plain language as stated in the ISO 31000 standard above are reproduced below,
In our next installment, we will explore further on uncertainties, assessing the risk and how such risks may be managed. Organisational culture has a very important position and situation in risk management.
Sample risk management strategy template
A sample template, Risk Assessment Strategy, for recording and monitoring the hazards for risk treatment or mitigation is appended below. Templates are only guides and therefore each organisation needs to make improvements to templates given to them by vendors.
Risk Management requires a skills-set of competences that are quite neglected. Cursory courses are conducted by various vendors who sometimes may not be sufficiently trained in such specialised management tools. The various issues and problems that are now surfacing reflects the inadequate or insufficient knowledge, skills and praxis of many mariners and auditors. What dangers then that may occur due to these emerging issues and problems may be catastrophic as ships get larger, more sophisticated with less well trained people in critical positions on ships and ashore.
It is also important to be conversant with the fact that Risk Management is not just about threats, uncertainty and harm but also about managing opportunities and being proactive with regards to potential losses and or gains. Therefore risk
management would be embedded in the organisation’s culture