Fear in their eyes

Chris Lacroix, Operations Manager BOMS and Fairmount Marine
“When I was sailing as a mate on our AHTS vessels the ‘Stop the job’ policy was implemented. People had mixed feelings about it: wonderful, but would it be feasible with the current operational and commercial pressures?

I felt this pressure first hand, because the attitude in offshore was often:
‘safety first as long as it doesn’t hold up operations’. On one project we’d entered a crucial phase. So we had to carry out operations on our workboat after dark. Deteriorating weather conditions made it increasingly precarious. There’s always a team spirit and a ‘get the job done’ mentality on board. So we kept trying. Again. And again. But at one point it became so rough that everyone admitted with fear in their eyes that we couldn’t go on like that. At the same time we felt a tremendous pressure because of the project since the entire field would come to a halt for 24 hours if we stopped working. Eventually I decided to announce 'stop the job’. With today’s mentality this would only be applauded, but back then it was met with silence. The one moment I expected and needed support, all I got was complete silence. Only once we got back on board were we congratulated by the tow master, who had seen us at work.
That event determined my views about safety. I learned how important it is, in a risky profession like ours, to know you’re supported. That’s what I stand for as a manager: don’t be reluctant to say ‘stop’, you have my support. That kind of trust is fundamental to safety.”