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IOSH project enhances submariner safety

22 July 2011

Hazardous industry experts from the world’s largest organisation for health and safety professionals have recently played a part in improving submarine safety.

The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) Hazardous Industries Group (HIG) worked together with the Submarine Enterprise on a Peer Review, to improve the safety of submariners who work with nuclear energy, chemicals and other major hazards on a daily basis.

This arose out of IOSH HIG’s overall Peer Review project, which is aimed at developing teams of professionals to go into each other’s companies and share best practices, helping to change and develop safety strategy.

Royal Navy Commander Mark Westwood and Dave Mason, IOSH HIG committee member, worked collaboratively to encourage the highest standards of safety across the Submarine Enterprise.

Mr Mason, who is also a founding member of IOSH HIG Peer Review project, said: “The key to our Peer Review process is to define what excellence looks like, to engage leaders in ‘walking the talk’, to observe what people really do and to identify an organisation’s opportunity for strategic development of safety.

“Submariners have one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. So the fact that this process has been integrated into such a diverse and complex industry shows how flexible and powerful a tool it is.”

In 2010, Mr Mason was invited to work with the Submarine Enterprise to develop the Peer Review process, in a bid to help enhance its safety culture and maintain high standards of safety. The Peer Review Implementation Team made use of HIG’s experience of Peer Review to develop a process that helped enhance safety culture. Its aim was to further reduce risks to individuals and prevent the possible degradation of layers of protection upon which submarine safety depends.

The companies involved included Ministry of Defence (MoD) Defence Equipment and Support, Royal Navy - Navy Command, Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) Plc, Babcock Marine, Rolls Royce and BAE Systems Submarine Solutions – all of whom agreed to exchange information, encourage communication and emulate each other’s best practices.

Cdr Westwood said: “The Submarine Safety Peer Review was so successful because it was done by people who actually made time to be the ‘fly on the wall’, examining what went on without being a part of the day-to-day working practises.

“As a team, we collected 1,000 observations in a week and they told us what we thought we already knew, but in an objectively assessed light. It confirmed what didn’t feel quite right and what did, but what was really encouraging was to see the safety standards that exist across the whole of the Submarine Enterprise.

“As a result of this, we’ll get a better quality of build, better quality of maintenance, and even more layers of safety and protection through better behaviour and processes.”

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