Lone worker alarm helps colleagues get back to work

We have a strong safety focus in DFDS. We launched our Safety First programme last year, aiming to increase safety at terminals, warehouses and vessels.

Important initiatives to increase safety have already been launched across DFDS. One of these is a new lone walker alarm system in Peterborough, UK.

The need for the device was made apparent after some colleagues from the Peterborough Group returned to work after serious health concerns.

Operations Manager James Ferguson says: “As part of their phased return to work, we wanted to ensure the complete safety of our colleagues as they were eager to return to the business. Due to the requirements of their particular role, there would naturally be times when members of that team would be working alone for a short period of time.

Since we started to use the device within the Transport BU of the Peterborough Group, we have also found that it increases the safety for our colleagues who work alone in our warehouse operation at Peterborough. As of today, there are 3 devices currently being used throughout DFDS within the UK.”

The company Solo Protect is the supplier of the alarm system which makes it possible to reach out for help in different ways. If a colleague was to have an issue when working alone, they can either pull the lanyard pins from device, press one of the buttons for help or if the device senses you have been immobile for a period of time, it will trigger the alarm. This will then automatically call the support centre where an operator can speak to the colleague through the device and arrange the support of the emergency services if necessary.

Regional Transport Manager Darren Smith says: “I’ve found it very useful to be able to help a colleague get back to work and feel confident that if any issues arise whilst working alone, they wouldn’t feel stranded and we would be able to get assistance to them as quickly as possible. It has allowed colleagues to return to work, whereas without the device, we wouldn’t have been able to do so because of the nature of the operation.”

James Ferguson adds: “This is a great example of how different parts of our business have come together to ensure we are working with the maximum safety of our colleagues in mind. The device has been received very positively by all colleagues who use it and I’d recommend it to any part of the business where colleagues are working alone. If you require any more information, please don’t hesitate to reach out to either Darren Smith or myself”.

Ian Putterill, Warehouse Operative Peterborough, using the lone worker alarm

Safety First – Also for passengers

Since the Safety First program was initiated almost a year ago, the team has created posters, safety guides, videos etc. to share knowledge and experiences about safety on board vessels and in terminals for our colleagues working with heavy cargo.

Marine Superintendent Søren Bildt says: ”We have had a lot of valuable feedback and proactive suggestions from the crews onboard our vessels about how to enhance safety. Some of our cargo vessels have raised the need for not only improving safety for DFDS employees and partners but also for passengers operating their own vehicles during cargo operations. This is a very good suggestion and based on our continuous flow of near-miss reporting and inputs from vessel crews, we have created a poster that is meant to serve as a simple reminder of safe behavior for passengers. The poster is available in six languages which should cover the demography of our customers.”

The posters are available on the Safety First assets page

Great start for SIRS in Brevik

Thorbjørn Aasig Lund and Stian Larsson
As part of the initiatives for the Safety First Programme, a new reporting tool SIRS (Safety Incident Reporting System) has been introduced in various terminals and warehouses.

At Brevik terminal, the tool has taken off with a great start. Shortly after introducing the tool, we saw the first reports for Brevik, and the terminal was quick to implement and start using the new reporting system.

“The old deviation report was outdated and on a small paper. It had a few regular health and safety lines and a little empty blank space where we could write down in short words what had happened. Having our mindset on being more innovative and more focused on safety and the environment, SIRS came just in perfect time for us,” says Safety Representative Stian Larsson. “I am very happy with this improvement and especially how easy it is to use”.

Small stickers with QR codes have been placed in machines and buildings, which makes it very easy for employees and third parties to report it if an incident should occur. The follow-up and possible corrective actions needed to rectify the safety reports are done by the safety representative and managers all together.

MD at Brevik terminal Thorbjørn Aasig Lund says: “When we have a bit more data, the next step for us in Brevik will be to evaluate safety performance and share findings and best practice with our colleagues in the terminal in Brevik and within the rest of the DFDS network”.

Blog: Learning from accidents

By Michael Stig, Designated Person at DFDS

You have all undoubtedly heard about the Titanic disaster in 1912, it is probably the most well-known maritime accident in history. But the maritime history does sadly have many other very tragic accidents.

The Titanic disaster lead to the SOLAS Convention which is a set of safety rules for ships. SOLAS is short for” Safety of Life at Sea”. It is a set of safety rules for ships, it still exists today but it has been amended many times, both in response to maritime accidents and to developments in the maritime field.

You can see a brief explanation of it here

The SOLAS convention is in many ways a retroactive instrument, it often changes after an accident has happened, and not before.

The ISM Code was introduced by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) as a more proactive instrument to address safety and prevent accidents and incidents before they happened as one of the objectives of the Code.

And in a simplified way you could say that that near-miss situation was introduced to shipping. And hence the idea of preventing an accident from happening by addressing it when it is “just” a near-miss situation and before turning into an accident was introduced to the shipping industry.

The ISM Code is a whole lot more than this, that is for sure. But for this short article we have just touched upon the near-miss reporting and lesson learned aspects of the ISM Code. The objective of the Code is “to ensure safety at sea, prevention of human injury or loss of life, and avoidance of damage to the environment, in particular, to the marine environment, and to property” as the Code reads.

The ISM Code is short for “International Management Code for the Safe Operation of Ships and for Pollution Prevention”.
But the background for introducing the ISM Code was sadly also rather tragic. A number of major maritime disasters lead to it. e.g. The Herald of Free Enterprise, The Estonia & the Scandinavian Star disasters.

Read more about the ISM Code here on the IMO website

In terms of the Scandinavian Star disaster, DR & NRK have recently made a documentary about this disaster.
And more recently a documentary has also been made about the Estonia disaster on a large network channel.

If you want to read the official accident investigation reports from the three maritime disasters, you can find them here:


Scandinavian Star

Herald of Free Enterprise

If you want to read more and learn from the accidents in the maritime fields, you can find some links to useful resources below.

E.g. all flag states have an obligation to investigate into large maritime accidents to find the lessons learned from these accidents and prevent future accidents from happening again.

Below we have linked to some of the maritime investigation branches for the flags that we have in the DFDS fleet. But there are of course many more.


Read about lessons learned from the IMO here.

If you want to read near-miss reports from other companies, the Nautical Institute runs the Mariners’ Alerting and Reporting Scheme (MARS) where everybody interested can read both accident and near-miss reports from other companies in the maritime industry.

Safety First – Support the program

Since spring, we have informed you about the very important Safety First program that aims to make DFDS a safer place to work on board vessels and at terminals.

Handling heavy freight unfortunately sometimes leads to tragic incidents but with training, knowledge sharing, a “just culture” and new initiatives, we can increase safety at DFDS.

If you want to support the program, you can now download the Safety First logo and add it to your email signature like this: Inside outlook choose fileoptionsmail (upper left corner), signatures and edit the signature you want to by adding the logo image at the bottom of your signature.

Please download the image by right clicking on it and choose Save image as


Vlaardingen takes safety one step further

In this video, you can see how the staff in Vlaardingen moor Selandia Seaways. Mooring and unmooring ships is one of the things that staff in Vlaardingen will have special focus on.

As you are all probably aware, the Safety First programme was recently kicked off locally.

In Vlaardingen, the Safety First kick-off was done with the terminal’s labour safety group, which consists of representatives from the labour safety council and management. The kick-off initiated further fruitful discussions and safety initiatives.

HSSE Manager Henk van den Broek says: “After reviewing and digesting the Safety First material, we discussed how we could use this to further develop our safety culture in Vlaardingen, and we agreed on three items that we want to pay special attention to in the near future.”

They include:

1. Mooring and unmooring ships
2. Fine dust particles on ships while loading and unloading
3. The climate in the office

“We have already seen the first benefits of the Safety First initiative which is very positive,” says Henk. “One example is that we have seen crew from the vessels and dockers in the terminal constructively pointing to safety matters in areas controlled by each other. This has been easier because we now all have the same focus on safety, and ships and shore are now talking the same language about safety.”

“More initiatives from the Safety First team have already been introduced and we really welcome these initiatives. In the coming period we will work with them and see how we can best include them in the procedures and systems already in use.”

Jesper Hartvig Nielsen and Michael Stig are very pleased to see local initiatives grow and develop alongside the Safety First programme. Jesper says: “A big thank you to Henk for sharing this with us and all our colleagues working in terminals and on vessels. Sharing knowledge and good ideas about safety are crucial for making DFDS a safer place to work.”


‘Just culture’ at DFDS

A few months ago, we invited staff working on vessels, and at terminals and warehouses to participate in a safety survey. The response rate was overwhelming, and we cannot thank the colleagues who took the time to complete the survey enough. The input is invaluable.

We haven’t finished processing and analysing all the data yet, but one extremely important thing leapt out. Apparently, not all colleagues are fully familiar with the term ‘no-blame culture’ or ‘just culture’ and what this culture implies. Some industries use the term ‘no blame’ while others use the more up-to-date term ‘just culture’, but it is basically the same.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has defined a ‘just culture’ in their circular (MSC-MEPC.7/Circ.7 – Guidance on Near-Miss Reporting):

A ‘just culture’ features an atmosphere of responsible behaviour and trust whereby people are encouraged to provide essential safety-related information without fear of retribution. However, a distinction is drawn between acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. Unacceptable behaviour will not necessarily receive a guarantee that a person will not face consequences.

If you want to read the IMO circular, you can find it here

‘Just culture’ at DFDS
DFDS has of course also implemented a ‘just culture’. It is described in our Safety Management System (SMS) for our vessels in the Health, Safety & Environment (HSE) Policy. It is signed by CEO Torben Carlsen. If you happen to visit DFDS House in Copenhagen, you can actually see the HSE policy posted in the lobby just after the reception desk.

The Health, Safety & Environment (HSE) Policy

It is crucial that everyone at DFDS knows that no person should fear reprisals or punitive action for reporting a near-miss to the company.

We must all embrace a true ‘just culture’ so people feel safe and encouraged to report safety-related incidents, near-miss reports etc., so that we can improve the safety level at DFDS and share all the important lessons learnt. For those of you who have access to our SMS, you can read more about this in SMS documents 2.1.0 and 9.1.1.

If for some reason you want to report an incident anonymously, there are several ways to do that. We will inform more about that shortly.

External inspiration
Some of you may be familiar with the safety guru Sidney Dekker, who has made some very good speeches about ‘just culture’.
Click on the links to hear him.

Sidney Dekker on Just Culture

Sidney Dekker Just Culture | The Movie


BU Med launches Safety First

As shown in the video last week, BU Med launched the “Safety First” programme in late July, which will be implemented in all departments and locations.

The main target of the Safety Programme is to ensure the safety of employees, to increase awareness and to improve the existing Occupational Health & Safety System by engaging all our colleagues and the supplier/subcontractor employees with whom we work.

The steps in this programme are as follows:

  • “Safety First” meetings have started for all colleagues
  • The DFDS Safety Guide has been distributed
  • “Safety First” posters at terminals, on board ships and in related areas
  • The Health & Safety team continues to provide information about how to implement the Safety First programme, and how to report accident/incident/near-miss situations
  • Setting up a “Security Incident Reporting System”, with “SIRS” posters, ensuring that all employees can report incidents easily.

Özge Süalp Altun, Head of Health & Safety Environment at BU Med, says: “Although we already have a health and safety system, we know that health and safety need to be continuously improved. Safety is not only the job of health and safety specialists: it involves all employees, and I think we will maximize awareness of safety at DFDS with this company-wide Safety First project. This programme will support us in making this work more efficient by setting the standard in all locations and business units at DFDS. I believe that awareness will increase as the information is shared.”

Safety First: Local programs take off

Too many serious accidents took safety to the very top of the agenda at DFDS, and despite the coronavirus situation, the Safety First program was launched in April.

Campaign posters, online meetings, a safety booklet and a safety survey were among the many initiatives, and now local programs are being kicked-off.

Images from local kick-offs on vessels, terminals and warehouses have been sent to the Safety First inbox, and we have gathered all the great images in a short video.

“You will probably notice how the King Seaways crew were touched by a presentation that Captain Ingimar Tór Thomsen held about the incident on the vessel Seatruck Progress. Two of the King Seaways crew members knew the officer involved in the tragic accident,” says Michael Stig.

Next steps

Jesper Hartvig Nielsen says: “We have now completed the safety reporting tool which keeps track of accidents for shore side. The safety reporting tool for the ship side was already in place.”

“More initiatives will be launched from our side. The results from the safety surveys are still being processed, and we hope to have all done and ready shortly, so we can move forward with the findings from the surveys. Once again a big thank you to all of you who took the time to participate in the survey.”

“We would also like to thank all the local managements and staff for their high commitment in the program. Without their big help and involvement we cannot succeed. And as always, please do not hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions, input or ideas,” Michael adds.

You can contact the Safety First program team on

Today 25 June is the Day of the Seafarer

For the past 10 years, IMO (International Maritime Organization) has encouraged to celebrate the seafarers all around the world on 25 June. This year they deserve the praise more than ever.

Michael Stig, Designated Person, Marine Standards, says: “During the corona crisis, seafarers have been playing an essential role in maintaining the flow of vital goods such as food and medical supplies, and it has indeed been a difficult time for them. Many seafarers have been away from home for months and don’t even know when they will be able to get home due to travel restrictions.”

Being a caring employer is one of the two main themes of DFDS’ CSR strategy, and in tune with this Michael Stig and Jesper Hartvig Nielsen recently kicked off the Safety First programme that intends to increase safety for seafarers and staff working on terminals.

“Being a seafarer can be a difficult and from time to time risky job. Let’s all send kind thoughts to all seafarers throughout the world today and acknowledge their sacrifices and the vital role they play in keeping the world trade moving,” says Michael.

Watch this video with the general secretary of IMO and learn more about the Day of the Seafarer.


Another day at work

We received this video from the Esbjerg Terminal, and though it isn’t operated by DFDS, it provides a very interesting view into the work of a tugmaster driver. Watch the video and see the operation from the viewpoint of the driver.

A big thank you to the staff at Esbjerg Terminal for participating in the video, and to Michael Stig and Jesper Hartvig Nielsen for providing footage and information.

Safety survey for employees working at warehouses

A few weeks ago, we launched a safety survey for employees working on terminals and vessels, now a similar survey for employees working in the warehouses has been launched.

The survey is completely anonymous so there is no risk for you. We cannot see name or email of the respondents, and the results will not be used to blame anyone. It will only be used to improve safety.

You will receive an email
It is an online questionnaire, and if you work in one of the warehouses, you will receive an email with a link to the survey from crewing or HR very soon. Please complete the survey and help us make daily work more safe for the sake of you as well as your family.
You can also find a link to the survey on the bottom of the Safety First site.

We will also take the opportunity to thank the many colleagues who have responded to the safety survey for vessels and terminals. The response rate is impressingly high, and your answers are of great value for our common project to improve safety. If you have not completed the survey yet, please do it now as we close this survey on Tuesday 9 June.

We hope to see the same high commitment and response rate for the warehouse survey.

Jesper Hartvig Nielsen and Michael Stig

Survey to kick-off safety programme

Everyone working with freight operations on ships and at terminals will receive a questionnaire on safety standards in their workplace. The answers will be used as a basis for the programme that aims to make cargo operations safer. The survey is anonymous and will be sent to you via email from local HR or crewing from today.

As we wrote recently, we have experienced tragic fatalities in cargo operations at DFDS in recent months. “This is completely unacceptable, and therefore, we are now launching a programme to improve safety during cargo operations at terminals and onboard our ships,” says Torben Carlsen

The safety programme is managed by Michael Stig, Designated Person, for on-board safety, and by Jesper Hartvig Nielsen, Fleet Management, for safety ashore. They are now kicking off the programme with a safety survey.

Your opinion and ideas
Michael and Jesper say: “To start work, we really need the opinion and ideas of you who work with cargo operations at DFDS. Therefore, we have developed a survey, which we kindly ask everyone working at terminals or on board our ships to complete. This will help us understand better how we currently work with safety at DFDS, and how we can improve the safety for you and your colleagues.”

“There is no risk for you. The survey is completely anonymous. We cannot see name or email of the respondents, and the results will not be used to blame anyone. It will be used only to improve safety

You receive it via email
It is an online questionnaire, and you will receive a link to it in an email from crewing or HR today or soon after. Please complete it and help us make daily work more safe for the sake of you as well as your family.

You can also find the survey on the bottom of the Safety First site.