Crews working on Fugro marine contracts are relishing their role as safety leaders in the ‘Safety Leadership’ initiative which is inspiring a new sense of teamwork while enhancing personal development.
Improved statistics for recordable incidents is not the only sign that a new safety campaign in the marine survey industry is working. Just as important to Shell  and Fugro are some of the main impacts of the ‘Safety Leadership’ campaign; the team spirit and satisfaction evident among crews returning to shore, rewarded and inspired by a new sense of ownership of safety in the marine environment.
The programme has quickly begun a cultural transformation, despite no sweeping changes to operations or workload. Small steps, evolving the already strong safety culture at energy giant Shell and Fugro, are having a positive impact.
Shell companies have been working on pilot schemes with Fugro and other contractors to harness improvements in arguably the most challenging aspect of safety management – cultural and behavioural change. This is part of an initiative where Shell executives have teamed up with executives of major contractors to accelerate Goal Zero at the frontline.
Kevin McLay, Chief Surveyor at Shell Global Solutions, said: “The industry is good at process and procedure, with very strong HSE management systems in place at Shell and companies like Fugro. This takes you to a certain stage but not quite to the end goal of zero incidents.”
John Evans, Fugro Country Manager for Egypt, said: “Safety Leadership is aiming to develop leadership skills, engage the participation of everyone and encourage ownership of safety.”
A programme of trialling and development with Fugro on North Sea projects proved very promising, with a drop in recorded safety incidents. Since 2017, Fugro has been rolling out Safety Leadership on all vessels with Shell and other strategic clients, closely monitoring and fine-tuning its effectiveness.
Safety Leadership at Fugro uses seven Fugro developed ‘facilitation’ tools in an innovative approach to implementation. These have been designed, based on extensive practical experience, to create the conditions for personnel to feel empowered and develop the personal confidence to contribute.
The tools produced very encouraging results on the recent Egypt Harmattan Deep site survey, undertaken by Shell Egypt with Fugro Egypt performing the site characterisation.
Ahead of the voyage, Fugro invited both project survey and marine crew members to meet and participate in the two-part HIRA (Hazard Identification and Risk Analysis) at a hotel in Alexandria. Crew were able to feed back on the initial office-based HIRA to maximise its relevance and start forging a closer and inclusive team relationship which is developed throughout the project.
“The two-part HIRA is not just about communicating information, but also allowing people to contribute and take ownership of their operations and risks,” said Wessam Mahmoud, Fugro Q&HSE manager.
On the ship, the crew led kick-off meeting continues to support the open dialogue and closer links between personnel. People are more willing to raise questions with their peers, and junior staff feel more confident to join in.
The use of a shared office by the Captain and Party Chief encourages the different disciplines within marine and site characterisation operations to work together more effectively. Leadership-sharing continues with the cross-departmental tours, which bring people out of their usual work zones to help spot potential hazards. Rotating the lead for the toolbox talks also helps to strengthen the team bond.
Fugro’s Wessam Mahmoud said: “Crew members are taking on board new ideas, overcoming their fears about speaking up, and feel pride in seeing modifications from their own suggestions. There is more teamwork, more commitment and greater ownership of safety. The culture is changing.”
Supervisors provide advice and support encouraging personal development and providing a natural process of mentoring between senior and junior staff.
Safety Leadership is helping to formalise and unify the safety practice for Fugro’s global and transient workforce. Now when they join a vessel, they see even greater commonality around culture, tools and procedures based on best practice and cross-department standardisation.
Joris Siermann, the Project Manager from Shell Global Solutions, was a frequent visitor throughout the survey, providing visible client support and fostering a joint approach to the programme. He said: “Shell and Fugro have been working hard to create the right environment and tools, do the engagement, and now we are seeing the results in behaviour. The main driver is, we want everyone to go home safely after every survey.”
Safety Leadership is removing divisions and cultivating the right conditions for non-supervisory personnel to step up and lead– an exciting dynamic that is opening up the channels of communication.
Steve Keedwell, Survey Operations Manager and Principle Technical Expert for Offshore Surveys at Shell Global Solutions, observed: “The focus is on simple messages and tools, and making small changes that make a big difference. Throughout the Harmattan Deep project, I saw Fugro personnel taking on Safety Leadership and really owning it. The culture is becoming more generative and there is a real energy there to continually improve.”
Impressed by the benefits, Fugro Egypt is now transferring Safety Leadership principles onshore to the workshops that maintain and prepare survey equipment.
Shell’s Kevin McLay sees potential for Safety Leadership to benefit the wider marine survey industry. “We have come a long way, but there is still a long way to go,” he said. “Operational safety is an on-going journey that needs the continued engagement of our community, including Shell, Fugro and everyone striving for improvement.”
 The companies in which Royal Dutch Shell plc directly and indirectly owns investments are separate entities. In this text, the expression “Shell” is sometimes used for convenience where references are made to those entities individually or collectively or to those who work for them. These expressions are also used where no useful purpose is served by identifying specific companies.
Cultural change is measurable. On the debriefing questionnaire, Fugro saw a 38% increase in the number of respondents agreeing “I feel empowered to take a lead in Safety.”