Safety and Near Miss Reporting

From Commander, Military Sealift Command

Safety and Near Miss Reporting

Our vision of boldly sailing the world’s oceans to provide essential assured logistics and service support to the joint warfighter can only be realized if we operate our ships in a safe manner. It must be part of our culture to “think safety” in everything we do.  We’ve taken a number of steps over the past year to improve our safety culture including:

– Creating a Fleet Safety Officer position, with supporting staff, who reports directly to me;

– Completing action items identified by the Safety Cross Functional Team review;

– Analyzing recommendations provided by an independent safety review team;

– Improving partnerships with stakeholders like the Naval Safety Center, U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Fleet Forces Command;

– Establishing a relationship with the Office of Naval Research to look at maritime safety during research projects;

– Examining safety culture as a part of afloat assessments; and

– Developing processes to distribute safety information and updates to our civilian mariners.

One area of a safety culture that merits reinforcing is near miss reporting. A near miss is an unplanned event that did not result in serious injury, illness or damage, but had the potential to do so.  The National Safety Council states that “history has shown repeatedly that most loss-producing events, both serious and catastrophic, were preceded by warnings or near miss incidents.”

MSC has a robust Safety Management System (SMS) and near miss reporting contributes to the function of continuous improvement. Hazard identification and near miss reporting provides an opportunity for Mariners to contribute to a safe working environment onboard their vessel and to the welfare of their fellow mariners across the fleet.

Every mariner is encouraged and empowered to report near misses, hazards, and any other safety related information to the MSC Force Safety Office. Reports can be formally submitted by using the MSC Hazard/Near Miss/First Aid/Class B or C Mishap Form, forwarded to your supervisor or Department Head, or submitted as an SMS Finding.  Near miss reporting is non-punitive and as a result, reports can be made without fear of retribution or retaliation.

Masters, Chief Engineers, and all MSC leaders have a responsibility to educate our personnel on the importance of identifying unsafe conditions and reporting a near miss and/or hazard. These self-identifying actions help protect our mariners and ensure MSC ships remain at the highest state of operational readiness and material condition.

Thank you for the great job you do every day by staying safe and making near miss reporting a priority.

United We Sail,

Rear Adm. Dee L. Mewbourne, USN

Commander, Military Sealift Command

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