Environmental Compliance Amid the Pandemic

Environmental Compliance Amid the Pandemic

By Bindu Shekhar Jha, Sr. Project Manager, Marine and Safety

Environmental Compliance Resized V2

The beginning of 2020 is engraved in history as one of the rare turning points in the recorded memory, which witnessed an unparalleled onslaught by an Invisible enemy known as COVID19.

Even the most powerful countries stood helpless victims to  the spread of COVID19, forcing a major global lockdown and subsequent recalibration. Lives and livelihoods got throttled as the entire planet seemed to have been taken hostage to this invisible enemy. Shipping companies and related businesses were no exception and were strongly challenged and severely disrupted the whole industry but particularly the following sectors:

  • Seafarers stranded onboard beyond their contract periods which impacted crew changes
  • Ship visits disabled
  • Annual ISM/ISPS/ ISO/Surveys & audits challenged
  • Dry docking and repairs disrupted
  • Mental well-being due to all above for both ship and shore staff
  • Working from home became the norm for all office staff
  • Environmental Compliance visits, office briefings, trainings and measures were all affected

Thome, a synonym of adaptability, is used to converting “Challenges into Chances, Adversity into Accomplishment and Stone into Milestone”. Hence, the Thome Group rose and roared to this challenge by responding commensurately, effectively and timely.

The Environmental Compliance Department (ECD) has been combatting this challenge by adapting a structured and re- calibrated response to neutralise the impacts. ECD’s “Compliance culture seed” sown and nurtured since 2016 in form of training, awareness, briefings, onboard audits and familiarisations has now been embedded deep into ship and shore’s DNA to adapt and respond to this crisis. The road ahead can be categorised broadly into two categories:

  1. Digitalisation:
    1. Virtual platforms, virtual meetings
    2. Tracking waste streams digitally
    3. Remote training sessions: ECD/ ORB
    4. Varied MARPOL related queries and assured responses
    5. Web based ORB seminars
    6. Remote Audit sessions (Remote seal log audit/ ORB audits/ ECD audit)
    7. Officers briefing and familiarisation on Skype
    8. Utilisation of NAU platform
    9. Future project of Electronic ORB and seamless data recording
    10. Powerpoint based training modules to evolve Marpol incidents and impact recipients with learning outcomes more

** Recent use of same (digitalisation) for varied audits, trainings, briefings has been well received to empower, entrust and encourage ship staff in collectively reaching a result.

  1. Empowerment:
    1. Empowerment by digitalisation
    2. ECD Dept with 3 years of awareness, trainings, briefings, audits etc now reposes stronger empowerment of Master/CE and ship staff on guided remote audits to derive desired outcomes by self-audits, self-calibration, and self-alignment processes.
    3. A continuous 360-degree feedback approach can be the best way to keep everyone in the team connected and Open reporting and any MARPOL issue -communication is encouraged
    4. Ship Staff are continuously empowered to share any concern, share any doubts and report any errors (Including self-inflicted). These have been the cornerstone of Thome’s Non-Retaliation policy and Open
    5. Above mentioned issues get a deserved and desired positive support from the ECD, thus leading to an enhanced Resilience Build up and positive Mental