Nobody would think of fitting incompatible equipment or machinery into a ship, so why not take exactly the same care when recruiting, hiring, training and retaining seafarers? This is the theme of Alert! the International Maritime Human Element Bulletin, in its latest issue.
Getting things wrong can be catastrophic, as shown by a case study which tracks a serious injury to a seafarer, illustrating his lack of appropriate training and competence when asked to undertake tasks beyond his skills. Earlier issues of Alert! highlighted the importance of experience, competence, best design, a safe and secure working environment, fair terms of employment and leadership. These issues are now brought together to show the importance of the interaction of people with other individuals, ships, systems and machinery.
The bulletin shows how crucial it is to attract and retain talent and details key performance indicators to demonstrate how companies can measure management performance in dealing with the human element. It points out that matching people with their ships is a serious and complex matter that should not be taken lightly.
The management of competence and the development of individuals to ensure that they have all the right skills and experience for the job in hand are reviewed through the eyes of a major crew manager. A second, practical article considers the development of technical best practice through the identification of skill requirements and the design of staffing arrangements to address continuous improvement.
The importance of mentoring, which is recognised as a valuable adjunct to training programmes and is now being encouraged by The Nautical Institute and others in the industry, is also dealt with in this bulletin. While the advantages of mentoring are many and well-understood, it is often under-utilised because of work pressures, the changing workforce and other operational constraints. This article encourages a second look at this important method of transferring both skill and experience between generations.
The overall theme of Alert! No.31, said Editor Commodore David Squire FNI, is human resources - fitting the correct peg into the correct hole. In his introduction he emphasises the importance of having the right number of people with the correct mix of skills and experience - and familiarity with the ship - to keep the ship and all aboard her safe.