Measuring Real Safety Performance


When we ask shipowners and operators the question: “How is your safety culture?” a large majority responded along the lines of “Our safety culture is above average – crew use PPE and our LTIF is OK!”

Can an assessment of ‘above average’ be justified from only these two parameters? Probably not, as they don’t adequately explain the truth about what is actually happening on board the vessels.

Safety performance is often evaluated from the outside, usually in the form of audits and inspections. And of course we should always also learn from incidents. These are OK, but cannot stand alone. Real safety performance measurement has to be done by those doing the job – potentially supported by observers. In other words, we have to look at the safety ’lifestyle’ on board if we are to measure how safe we are.

Talking with seafarers provides valuable knowledge

Over the years Green-Jakobsen has carried out a number of ‘safety maturity assessments’, in the course of which over 1,800 seafarers were interviewed as well as a large number of office staff.

Asking the right questions allows an insight into how safe people feel at work and how they perceive safety performance. Do they have a proper and useful dialogue about what and how they operate – before, during and after? Is the atmosphere on board beneficial for the well-being and job satisfaction for the crew? Do the leaders give clear direction and instruction? Is the work environment taken into consideration when tasks are planned and executed?

The answers to all these questions – and more – give a more precise indication of the safety on board. Giving the seafarers a chance to discuss, collaborate and reflect to a much higher degree allows for them to be supported in addressing the factors that are important for the safety lifestyle on board.

After all, wouldn’t it be much better if we learn before an incident happens?

Read more about Green Jakobsen’s work on measuring real safety performance at


Author: Erik Green 
Managing Director (Green-Jackobsen)