Understand the importance of investing in safety in maritime operations

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July 16, 2021

Wilson Sons’ capacity in risk management brings benefits to the environment, employees and customers

Safety at Wilson Sons – the largest operator of port and maritime logistics in the Brazilian market – is much more than beautiful words. It is a strategic value, which permeates across the organization for the development of a culture of integrity of employees, preservation of the environment and operational risk management. All in all, this results not only in the development in ESG (Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance) aspects, but also in benefits for all its public relations, especially for its employees and clients.

Port and maritime operations are subject to various types of risks that, if not managed, can negatively affect all parties involved. In 2020 alone, more than 900 serious-level maritime accidents were recorded worldwide, according to Maritime Bulletin. And since the beginning of 2010, 950 ship total losses have already been reported according to the 2020 study by Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (AGCS).

Therefore, the numbers are impressive: Wilson Sons completes a year without accidents with injuries in the Towage division. This period corresponds to four million hours worked in operations that add up to more than 55 thousand maneuvers. The unit has a fleet of 80 tugboats and more than 800 employees.

The company’s data also shows other achievements. The Towage division of Wilson Sons managed to reduce the frequency rate of accidents with injuries by more than 97% in the last decade.  As recognition for the commitment to the subject, it reached the world-class status in safety, a standard of excellence set by DuPont, a worldwide reference consulting firm in the industry. 

The milestone came as a result of accidents with injuries having a frequency rate (number of accidents per 1 million hours worked) of 0.29 last year and 0.41 in the triennium. Both indicators are below the 0.50 index, the parameter for a company’s performance to be considered world-class.

“It is an expressive result that demonstrates the Company’s capacity to manage risks and, mainly, to care for the health and integrity of our employees and the environment. For customers, a company with these results represents efficiency in operation, credibility, and trust in relationships”, says Marcio Castro, executive director of the Towage division.

Investments in campaigns, technology and training

Considering the most recent efforts – the last two years, for example – the company counts 15 campaigns dedicated to health, environment and safety and 18,000 hours of training.

There are several examples of how technology has been helping the Towage unit to beat efficiency marks in this regard. 

The digital records of the “Safety Dialogues and Behavioral Observations” made by the captains of the vessels are stored in the cloud. This data is processed to obtain insights and identification of recurrent deviations of employees, which allows the planning of quick actions in order to reduce potential risks. The support of technology continues, with cameras installed on the deck and in the engine room of the tugboats – places where there is greater exposure to risk – which make it possible to identify and correct deviations, and contribute to a more effective investigation in cases of accidents and incidents. 

The Towage Operations Center (COR), created in 2011, monitors the vessels 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, in 25 ports along the Brazilian coast. With the help of COR, maneuver planning is carried out, ensuring that navigation takes place at the most appropriate time, at the speed set for greater efficiency in fuel consumption, and through waterways free from any type of obstacles. An audible alarm sounds in the Operations Center whenever the planning is not strictly followed by the vessels.

Another ally in achieving high performance in safety is the company’s Maritime Enhancement Center (CAM). There, periodic training of professionals and campaigns for specific projects of customers and other interested parties are conducted through the Wilson Sons’ own maneuver simulator that is able to offer different operational scenarios.  

Active participation of top management

The culture of Health, Safety, and the Environment (HSE) has been strengthened in the company since 2011, when Wilson Sons created the WS+ Program in all units of the Group. The goal was to create a strong safety culture, through the development and engagement based on the recognition of the responsibilities of each employee, the role of leadership being a visible and perceived example, the discipline for compliance with the rules, the management of deviations and the governance of safety performance. 

The actions and initiatives directly involve the highest levels of management. A prominent example is the monthly meeting, called Safety Tuesday 9, created in 2019. In these meetings, which religiously take place on the third Tuesday of the month at 9 am, the Executive and Operations directors of the business present indicators, best practices, campaigns and relevant safety issues, through a live presentation that are accompanied by great part of the employees along the entire Brazilian coast.

To ensure that employees have a safe work environment at all times, the Towage division also implements effective HSE communication, intensified and enhanced, in both form and content. Several channels are used to spread the message, especially the corporate social network (JAM), a fundamental tool in the multiplication of good HSE practices. 

On another front, games with simulations for identification and correction of deviations, demonstrating safe behavior on board, help to involve employees in the commitment. There is also the frequent presentation of short HSE videos, on standards and instructions related to the themes of health, environment, and safety, in addition to the HSE Alert podcast that transmits reports of incidents and accidents, and lessons learned.

The commitment to safety comes to meet the greater awareness of society, which requires a corporate behavior aligned to the best governance practices added to the social and environmental responsibility. Wilson Sons, which shares this corporate vision, has been reaping positive results in customer satisfaction, employees and suppliers and delivery to shareholders. All the efforts and results highlight that safety is a value at Wilson Sons.

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