Safety for people and the environment is the first priority for Stolt-Nielsen Limited (SNL) and its business divisions.

SNL elevated oversight responsibility for safety, health, environment and quality (SHEQ) to the Corporate level in 2013, in order to establish a global, integrated and informed approach to continuous improvement in safety. While we continued to pursue this goal aggressively last year, 2015 proved to be challenging from an SHEQ perspective, with the occurrence of some serious incidents. Among the incidents were tank over-pressurisations and collisions, the most serious by far involving the Stolt Commitment and the multipurpose carrier Thorco Cloud in the Singapore Strait in mid-December. The Thorco Cloud sank following the incident and six lives were lost. The matter remains under investigation.

These incidents prompted immediate actions at Stolt Tankers, where “Following Procedures and Situational Awareness” was already a core theme of the division’s Excellence in Safety program. Efforts to place increased emphasis on navigation and training have redoubled, including expansion of Stolt Tankers’ Excellence in Navigation training course.

While this course was mainly targeted to junior officers, it will now be used for refresher training for senior officers, as well. Additional initiatives related to training, situational awareness and behavioural-based safety are included in the newly launched “Roadmap to Safe Operations”.

In order to provide added and fully objective perspectives on Stolt Tankers’ practices and approaches, the division is in the process of engaging a third-party auditor to conduct navigation audits on selected ships, in order to identify any potential weaknesses in the division’s existing internal audit processes.

Our commitment to safety has not wavered and we remain resolutely determined to leverage industry best practices, processes and procedures in pursuit of our safety objectives.

As Stolt-Nielsen Limited’s 2015 annual report was going to press, results from the second company-wide Safety Awareness Survey, conducted in October 2015, were being compiled and analysed. Continuous improvement in SHEQ performance begins with measurement and analysis. For this reason, the Company introduced in 2013 quarterly reporting across all businesses of key performance indicators (KPIs) focusing on safety, including accidents and serious accidents, near misses with high loss potential, and impact on the environment.

Lost time injuries (LTIs) are continuously measured: The tanker division, using the OCIMF reporting guidelines, recorded a LTI ratio of 0.8 for 2015. STC recorded none for the period. Stolthaven, using the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) reporting guidelines recorded no LTI in all but two locations, which had a ratio of 2.57 and 1.5. This unified approach to SHEQ reporting yields a consistent and comparable picture of safety issues over time across the depth and breadth of SNL’s global operations.

We continue to strive to enhance and refine the KPIs in order to generate more targeted data that deliver more enhanced insights.

Our first Safety Culture Survey was rolled out across our major businesses in 2014. Our objective was (1) to establish a baseline measurement of employees’ perceptions of the Company’s commitment to safety, (2) to identify and take appropriate actions in response to the survey results, and (3) to monitor and drive progress by conducting follow-up surveys on a periodic basis.

As previously reported here, the results of the first survey were encouraging. A substantial majority of the survey respondents indicated that Stolt-Nielsen is serious about its commitment to safety.

Some, however, expressed the view that satisfying customer needs, or financial objectives, rivaled safety in importance. This prompted an immediate intervention by the business-unit heads at Stolt Tankers, Stolthaven Terminals, Stolt Tank Containers and Stolt Sea Farm. In company-wide announcements and face-to-face meetings, the leadership of SNL explicitly affirmed Stolt-Nielsen’s commitment to safety. SNL’s response was based in part on research conducted by Shell, which has demonstrated the importance of senior management visibly and actively asserting its commitment to safety.

Continuous improvement is a stated goal of the SNL Corporate SHEQ initiative, and significant efforts were made to enhance the Company’s second Safety Culture Survey, as conducted in October 2015. For example, certain questions were clarified, by eliminating some ambiguities and simplifying some of the wording. In addition, to increase user friendliness, the survey was translated into more than a dozen languages and is now administered online. Participants log in, choose a language, and simply proceed through a series of screens one by one. At the end of the survey, participants are invited to provide any comments they wish. This last step is important, as it gives our people an open platform to express their own opinion and insights, not to mention concerns, regarding SHEQ issues at the Company.

While the first survey had been conducted only a year earlier, we believe that the results of the second survey will be tangibly better, thanks to the adjustments and improvements made. Measurement and analysis is vital, but so is learning – for both those who take the survey, and those who create it. The Safety Culture Survey provides input and insights from our own people, helping us to develop and refine the practices, procedures and processes that make our commitment to safety a reality. The results of the second Safety Culture Survey will be reported in the 2016 annual report.

Our safety-management system approach recognises that people are fallible and errors can be expected. To address that reality, we have numerous defences, or barriers, in place to prevent accidents. These include organisational barriers, regulatory barriers, technical barriers and, finally, the co-workers who are directly involved in performing an operation. Our accident investigations almost invariably show that in most cases, somebody knew something was not quite right but they didn’t speak up – or they employed what we call the ‘hint and hope’ approach. In other words, dropping hints that something doesn’t seem right in the hope that a co-worker –usually a superior – will catch on and react. Unfortunately, this approach rarely works. That’s why we introduced the Stop Work Authority card in October 2014. The card empowers people who might otherwise be reluctant to speak up. Now they know that when they perceive an unsafe situation, it is their responsibility to speak up – and that they have the authority and the support to do so. It’s part of their job to get that person’s attention, express concern, state the problem and, if possible, propose corrective action or stop work until a superior gives authorization to proceed.

Focusing on Environmental Performance

Improving the environmental performance of all our operating units is a core objective of the Corporate SHEQ initiative. All our major operating units continued to make progress toward this goal in 2015.

At Stolt Tankers, increasing fuel efficiency and reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions is a key objective. Achieving such improvements, however, requires a thorough understanding of shipboard fuel consumption, which, in turn, requires both extensive measurement and data collection. Stolt Tankers has invested in fuel consumption data collection and validation tools, reaching 98% data accuracy. This has helped in part to achieve and measure fuel savings of 6% for 2014/2015 combined, compared with 2013. Small improvements have a large impact when spread across the entire Stolt Tankers fleet. For example, variable-frequency drives were retrofitted to shipboard pumps and fans to reduce total power and fuel consumption. And because ships with clean hulls and propellers slip through the water with less drag and less fuel, we optimise schedules for propeller and hull cleaning, considering specific trades and operational profiles. Accurate data drives effective decision-making and improves efficiency.

During 2015, Stolthaven Terminals completed the implementation of the recently introduced Marine Terminal Management and Self-Assessment (MTMSA) process. Developed by the OCIMF (Oil Companies International Marine Forum), the MTMSA is a tool designed to help terminal operators better manage both risk assessment and risk management, for berth operations and the ship/shore interface. The tool allows operators to ensure that their management systems are effective and promote safety and environmental excellence.

Performance is measured with a series of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), enabling users to identify and track trends, and, in turn, target resources accordingly. Risk-assessment results help terminal operators to develop plans aimed at continuous improvement of safety and environmental performance, and to transfer more effectively best practices across their organisations. MTMSA is now fully rolled out to all wholly owned Stolthaven terminals. Initial self-audits have been completed, providing baseline data for actions supporting continuous improvement globally.

2015 saw significant progress in SHEQ at Stolt Tank Containers. During the year, STC was recertified in ISO 9001 (Quality Management Systems) on a global basis. In addition, the division expanded its CDI-MPC (Chemical Distribution Institute – Marine Packed Cargo) coverage to new markets. CDI-MPC provides uniform assessments of the quality and safety management systems of their logistic service providers. STC also raised its environmental sustainability scores in the Eco Vadis programme, a sustainability rating platform for global supply chains.

In addition, STC implemented improvements in the collection and tabulation of safety and quality metrics needed to drive continuous improvement of quality and safety initiatives in the future.

Stolt Sea Farm’s environmentally friendly approach to fish farming has been proved time and again. Continual monitoring and testing show that sea water taken up by Stolt Sea Farm’s land-based fish farms is cleaner when it is returned to the sea as a result of filtration. At certain farms, the organic material filtered from the sea water is provided to farmers for use as fertiliser. A different but equally effective approach is used at SSF’s innovative sole farm in Iceland, where the volumes of pure hot and cold water available to the farm – upwards of 3,000 litres per second – mean there is no need to filter and recirculate, the process used on most land-based fish farms. The outflow from the farm in Iceland is virtually pristine, as verified by Icelandic authorities, which periodically test the outflow to ensure it meets that nation’s strict environmental standards.

In its third year, Stolt-Nielsen Limited’s Global SHEQ initiative continued to make strong progress towards its stated goals:

  • to create a deeper, hands-on awareness of safety issues at the highest levels of management in the Company;
  • to ensure that appropriate resources are provided to support SNL’s stated commitment to safety;
  • to provide additional assurance of rigorous compliance in a constantly expanding and increasingly complex regulatory environment; and,
  • to drive the Company-wide implementation of safety processes and reporting that leverage both Stolt-Nielsen’s existing experience, which is substantial, and ongoing developments in safety.