How the shipping industry benefits from a holistic approach to human performance

By Jenny Eve






The Need for a Holistic Approach to Human Performance in the Shipping Industry

Author: Lt Colonel Devinder Singh RMAF (Retired) Performance Excellence Coach

Sometimes an issue in one area is an indicator of a wider concern. In this case, by applying a holistic view across functional areas, a logistics company was able to realise a greater return on investment than expected.


A logistics company was having issues on their vessels. The vessels (Supply, Anchor Handling and crew boats) were having too many accidents/incidents (hand and  finger injuries, slip, trips, falls etc) that were affecting the overall safety statistics/ records.


Check-6 recommended that a holistic approach be taken to address the situation. This holistic approach ensured that the Base Logistics (Warehouse, Leadership, processes/procedures etc.) would be covered as well as the vessels. The aim was to get the onshore and offshore entities speaking the same language.

The following processes/procedures were reviewed and improved:

  1. Leadership across the board
  2. Loading/Back-loading procedures - both at port and offshore
  3. Daily Inspections - All MHE (cranes, forklifts, trailers etc at Logistics Base/Warehouse)
  4. Bunkering - both onshore and offshore
  5. Preventive Maintenance / Corrective Maintenance
  6. Receiving/ Issuing work process
  7. Passenger embarkation/disembarkation for crew boats - onshore and transfer offshore
  8. Emergency procedures - onshore and offshore
  9. JSA’s / Risk Assessment
  10. Handling third party contractors for work onboard


  1. Vessel Masters/Captains started using performance excellence principles in daily operations, for example, understanding the importance of intervention/ Stop Work Authority versus pleasing
  2. Observed changes in work culture where crew became more sensitive toward the importance of situational awareness, mutual support, cross-checking and supervision that are key ingredients in creating an error-free operational environment. “What’s different today” became a standard cry every time crew set out to perform a task.
  3. Crew assertiveness, especially their the ability to communicate openly improved significantly. There was a marked improvement in crew participation during TBT and debrief sessions where they willingly shared ideas, lessons learned, and often discussed issues especially task difficulty and risk management. Intervening confidently when crew observed an unsafe condition or act became a norm.
  4. There was a significant increase in procedural discipline. Crew understood the procedures better as they were directly involved in the review process and/or coached on the procedures both on theory and practical


Applying a holistic approach to the original issue allowed the logistic company to unite two functional areas in a more coherent way. Costs were reduced as a result  of improving efficiency through procedural discipline. Safety was improved with the change in work culture along increased assertiveness and situational awareness.



Devinder “Dev” Singh

Performance Excellence Coach

Our cadre of global human performance experts consult and mentor in more than 20 languages. Our coaches apply their decades of military experience operating in complex, high-consequence environments to assist companies striving to optimize human performance while facing similar challenges and opportunities. 

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