Occupational safety first
“Because the entire company, including the management, is committed to icebreaker safety culture, occupational wellbeing has improved in the challenging work environment,” says Pia Broumand, Chief Security Officer at Arctia Ltd.
On an icebreaker, every morning begins with a team meeting during which we discuss the day’s tasks, the associated risks and, for example the permits needed for the tasks. Each task is carefully planned before starting.
Our icebreakers have professionals from a variety of fields, including deck, machine room and financial personnel with their supervisors. An icebreaker is a challenging work environment, because it is constantly rocking. This brings challenges in, for example, the mast and the galley.
Each task is covered by a risk assessment, which means all potential risks have been mapped out in advance. The crew also observes risks during their workday and makes safety observations. They can also record positive observations, for example, if they notice that safety has improved at some point.
The accident frequency has reduced considerably in recent years.
We emphasise for the icebreaker personnel that if anything happens, the process must be adjusted. Employees are not blamed for mistakes, and accidents are never seen as being caused by an individual employee.
Similarly, we emphasise that employees should not take any risks but dare to say no if the task does not feel safe. Safety equipment must be in order, and both clothes and footwear must be of the right size.
Processes can be adjusted based on employee observations and safety reports. For example, if an employee reports on a near miss, we investigate the case and make the necessary changes. The number of occupational safety reports is smaller than before, and the accident frequency has reduced considerably in recent years.
It is important to understand that safety is not a cost item.
Ensuring the occupational safety of icebreakers starts with the management. As Chief Security Manager, I am a member of the management team for icebreaking operations, serving as a link between the personnel and the management and safety and occupational wellbeing matters.
We start each management group meeting with a review of safety topics. The company’s safety culture is made up of how the management talks about safety and how safety is closely connected to the company’s operations.
In its strategy, Arctia is committed to promoting occupational safety and health and to safe and security-classified operations. It is important to understand that safety is not a cost item. It increases occupational wellbeing, but also the company’s value: our customers expect us to operate responsibly.
The personnel can meet the occupational health psychologist easily or make an appointment with a nutritionist.
In addition to the risks caused by the work environment, working at an icebreaker involves many other stress factors. For example, sleeping may be difficult, because the cracking of ice can be heard indoors through night. This is why occupational wellbeing goes hand in hand with occupational safety. We have implemented an early intervention model where the supervisors also take into account psychosocial stress.
We have also invested in comprehensive occupational health that ensures the wellbeing of staff more extensively. The personnel can meet the occupational health psychologist easily or make an appointment with a nutritionist. The ships have gyms, and some ships also have swimming pools so that the employees can follow their personal training routines.