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Shell’s Henderson aims for zero-incident future

Shell’s vice-president of shipping and maritime Grahaeme Henderson has a vision for a zero-incident future for the sector. He also championed seafarers’ mental health and wellbeing at a London International Shipping Week event

‘A zero-incident industry is achievable, but it will not happen overnight,’ said Shell’s vice-president

SHELL’S vice-president for shipping and maritime has set out his vision for a future with zero incidents.

“A zero-incident industry is achievable, but it won’t happen overnight, and it needs a lot of focused work,” Grahaeme Henderson told a London International Shipping Week event focusing on crew welfare. “We are making good progress.”

Mr Henderson has been championing safety, with several projects underway.

“Businesses have recognised that improving their safety performance is not just fundamental to their licence to operate, but also good business,” he said. 

The oil major works with 400 companies in charge of 2,800 vessels on the water in its Partners in Safety programme, which, over a seven-year period, has seen improved serious incidents by a factor of four, he said.

Training around incidents is also important, he said, adding that Shell was developing eight wellbeing programmes for seafarers. 

Human error is the cause of more than 75% of accidents in commercial shipping, and looking at the mental health and wellbeing of seafarers is becoming more of a global focus.

Shell has carried out extensive research into the link between seafarer wellbeing and human error.

Its research, derived from reviewing 700 academic papers and more than 60 industry publications, 30 hours of interviews and 240 pages of feedback from experts, showed that there was a clear direct link between the two, with fatigue, stress and the demanding culture on board vessels, as contributing factors. 

It is working on a new human error model to help businesses understand the wellbeing of their crew, with the aim of reducing incidents.

The model will combine its HiLo programme, launched two years ago, that focused on high impact, low frequency safety events which may result in serious injury or death. 

Results from the HiLo programme include cutting the risk of lifeboat accidents by 72% and the risk of engine room fires by 65%, according to Mr Henderson.

“If we can understand the wellbeing of the crew, we can make proactive interventions to address their needs and make improvements,” he said, adding that the industry could do much more about caring about one another’s wellbeing.

“We can become a leading industry in the challenging area of mental health. We can be the flag bearers.”

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