Steve Cotton, General Secretary, International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), ITF House, has responded to SAFETY4SEA questions addressing key industry issues for consideration. Mr. Cotton said that ITF will continue to work harder in 2017 to ensure the fair treatment of seafarers and more safety in working and living conditions.
SAFETY4SEA: Do you think there was a significant success and/or progress made with respect to maritime safety during 2016? Focusing on your area of expertise, what were the most important industry developments within 2016?
Steve Cotton: The introduction of new regulations on container safety in respect to the weighting of gross mass was a very important achievement for the IMO. Once this regulation is fully and globally implemented, we shall, in future, have much more reliable information.
Another major issue is the forthcoming implementation of new rules on Ballast Water Management, which regrettably, at its very beginning, shows certain deficiencies on testing, sampling and training of seafarers, who may be held culpable if things go wrong.
S4S: Focusing on your area of expertise, what do you think that it will be the biggest safety challenge(s) for the maritime safety for the 2017?
S.V.: Long hours of work continues to be a major problem throughout the industry. Therefore, the proposal to have operational manning included in the discussion at the IMO on the Guidelines on Fatigue is a positive move in the right direction. There is now the real potential for the ITF to believe that in the year to come, there is a chance for real improvements on the vital human factor within the industry.
S4S: What would be the 2017 resolutions for your company/ organization? What are your goals and aspirations to enhance shipping safety? Do you have any new projects on the pipeline and/or plans for 2017 that you would like to share?
S.V.: Lifeboat safety and lifeboat drills have been a challenge and a struggle for many years. Unfortunately, some basic principles have not been changed since the Titanic. However, with other industry partners, the ITF is going to revise some technical issues and seek to restore the confidence and faith of seafarers in their own life-saving appliances. Further to this, next year we will, together with industry and respective governments, work on the recognition of issues regarding safety culture in shipping. We believe that this will elevate existing systems in companies and on board ships, which will provide more safety in working and living conditions.
S4S: What is your overall forecast for shipping safety in 2017 and what would you like to share and/or wish and/or ask other industry stakeholders?
S.V.: Fair treatment of seafarers is an important and essential element in the future implementation of international standards. And this belongs to every general situation and not only to cases of maritime accidents.
Separately, with the new technology that is now being promoted on board ships, under the pretext of better reliability, operability and cost, we must consider what are the genuine savings being made. These challenges are not only for the future and survival of decent workplaces, but also for the safety of those who will still stay working at sea. When new technology is being proposed, we need to assess whether it will improve safety, security and environmental protection.
More broadly within the industry as a whole, it is essential that shipowners learn the lessons of previous years and do not increase capacity excessively as past ship orders, and the imbalance of demand and supply, which has caused the industry much pain.
The views presented hereabove are only those of the author and not necessarily those of SAFETY4SEA and are for information sharing and discussion purposes only.