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safety-alert-communication

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[♪ music ♪] [Alert!] [Issue 14: Communication] [Effective communication The key to successful operations] What is it that makes our ships fully operational? And what is it that makes them safe to operate? Rules and regulations? Certainly. Proper management systems? Those too. Reliable, well-maintained machinery and equipment? Essential, obviously.

But we know there's something else [Stephen Henry] the maritime industry relies on. And it's possibly the most important thing of all. It's called communication. And communication is what we will be communicating in this issue of Alert! [♪ music ♪]

The ability to properly and effectively communicate in writing and through conversation is important, not only to the safety of ships' crews, visitors and passengers, but also to the well-being of crews. But the standard of English of some seafarers is sometimes so poor that they have difficulty communicating, not only between themselves, but also with agencies outside the ship.

Perhaps the best way of improving verbal communication is to recruit those seafarers who have an understanding of the English language in effective communications skills, particularly in the use of the English language in the maritime environment. This should then be backed up with a program of regular testing.

We need to understand that communication is not just about talking, reading, and writing. It's about exchanging ideas, information, and knowledge between individuals, and between crew and management ashore, and for problem solving. Owners and operators should provide tools onboard, such as telephone, email and internet facilities, which would allow crew to keep in touch with their families, and making information available through professional journals, company newsletters, and noticeboard bulletins keeping the crew informed of important issues that have an effect on their working life, health, safety, and welfare.

[David Squire, FNI Editor ALERT!] It's about recognizing, interpreting, and correctly reacting to people, incidences, or situations that are open to misunderstanding due to cultural differences. It's also about empowerment, inclusion, leadership, and teamwork. Basically, effective communication is the key to the successful operation of any ship.

Although equipment manufacturers generally do a great job of providing operating and maintenance manuals, many are still getting away with substandard documentation. As well as providing essential familiarization and guidance for the safe operation of a ship's equipment and systems, procedure-based operating manuals produced by a specialist company and regularly updated are not just a valuable asset over the lifetime of a vessel, they are very effective tools in assisting communications on multinational crude vessels, which make up almost 90% of the SOLAS fleet.

In recognition, perhaps, of the fact that poor communications skills were risking and even causing damage to lives, property, even the environment, in 2001, the IMO adopted the Standard Marine Communication Phrases, SMCP. Through STCW, they became a mandatory part of the education of ships' officers. The phrases provide a "survival kit" and include all essential safety-related event where spoken English is required.

Communication is also an essential ingredient of successful teamwork. Difficulties in communicating in a common language can often lead to misunderstandings within teams. But culture is also a contributing factor and can seriously impact on compliance, safety, and performance.

Some of these problems may arise when the state is of English in the education systems in a seafarer's home country, which brings us back to training. But since the majority of seafarers now work in mixed nationality crews, the choice of English language training is critical. Effective English language training should focus on developing spoken fluency, understanding English spoken with a range of international accents, and the impact of culture on communication.

Recruiting qualified sea and shore staff is, and will likely remain, a challenge. And if we want to ensure effective teamwork, and we want a positive safety culture onboard, language and communications skills training are going to be essential. Creating the right culture is, of course, never going to be easy. But not all components of effective communication are difficult to get right.

Take signage. We use signs to communicate important messages to passengers and crew. Escape routes, for example. Mustering stations, warnings against hazards, and location and use of safety equipment. So how difficult is it to make sure that our signs are perceivable, understandable, distinguishable, and unambiguous?

Well, we've said it already. Effective communication is the key to the successful operation of any ship. That's it for this program. You can view and even download this issue from the Alert! website, where you'll find other views on the subject of communication from marine professionals around the world. It's well worth reading. Hope to see you again soon.

[If you are in any way involved in the design operation or support of ships and their systems, you have a role to play. All the Alert! bulletins can be downloaded from the Alert! website. www.he-alert.org] [A Nautical Institute project sponsored by The Lloyds Register Educational Trust and produced by Videotel]

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Duration: 6 minutes and 36 seconds
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Language: English
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Posted by: maritimetraining on Apr 17, 2018

safety-alert-communication

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