CABM, The ISM Code was introduced in 1998 as a Safety Management System standard with the aim of improving Safety and Environmental standards in Shipping and Offshore vessel operations. Whilst the ISM Code did improve Safety and Environmental standards, however the Oil Majors did not find it adequate to match the high HSE standards of upstream and down-stream offshore industry. In the year 2011, OCIMF created the OVMSA.
WHAT IS OVMSA?
The OVMSA Document comprises of a series of 12 Elements, which in turn are composed of 1 or more KPIs (effectively questions). The OVMSA document preparation and submission is optional. A company can complete any part of the document in any order and publish at any point in time. The OVMSA concept is based upon continuous improvement processes and encourages companies to improve their HSE standards and thereby OVMSA rankings. The OVMSA programme offers a standard framework for assessment of a vessel operator’s safety management systems. The framework is based on 12 main and a number of Sub-elements of management practice, each associated with an objective and supporting indicators. This helps operators assess the level of attainment in their company. Elements are ranked from Stage 1 (Lowest) to Stage 4 (Highest).
1. Management, leadership and accountability.
2. Recruitment and management of shore-based personnel.
3. Recruitment and management of vessel personnel.
4. Reliability and maintenance standards.
5. Navigational safety.
6. Offshore operations and the Management of contractors.
7. Management of change.
8. Incident investigation analysis.
9. Safety management.
10. Environmental management.
11. Emergency preparedness and contingency planning.
12. Measurement, analysis and Improvement
Each of the above element is broken down into 4 stages. KPIs in stage 1 are easier to answer yes than KPIs in stage 4. All the KPIs over the 4 stages have the same objective, though however they vary on the degree of implementation of the requirements which vary from Stage-1 to Stage-4. Example stage 1 KPI: “Management commitment is clearly defined in documentation that includes mission and vision statements, policies and procedures.” Example stage 4 KPI: “All vessel and shore personnel demonstrate their commitment to safety and environmental excellence.” OCIMF maintains the OVMSA database. This database is accessible to members with some restrictions which are imposed by the Vessel operators, who uploads the OVMSA reports.
Vessel Operators and members use it to:
- Complete a self-assessment questionnaire (OVMSA Document)
- Maintain a historical archive of OVMSA Documents
- Share Document[s] with OCIMF Members
OCIMF Members access it to:
- View current and historical OVMSA Documents for Vessel Operators
- Request access to OVMSA Documents
A Vessel Operator can select whether Documents can be viewed by:
- All members, or
- A list of explicitly chosen Members (opt-in rather than opt-out)
Members can request access to an Operator’s OVMSA Documents. At the point of requesting access, an e-mail is sent to the Operator letting them know that the Member has requested permission.
OVMSA self-assessment is done by each company using the OVMSA standard generally with the assistance of a specialist who has experience with ISO 9001, 14001 and OHSAS 18001 and HSE
Management system standards. An assessment of each department is carried out based on the OVMSA requirements, to verify actual compliance. It is quite similar to an audit. Such an assessment exercise could last for about 3 days followed by a report on the stage or level of compliance with the OVMSA guidelines and requirements.
The Self -Assessment would typically include departments such as:
- Technical (Maintenance & Operations)
- Offshore Operations
- Marine department
- HSE department
- Crew, Training and appraisal
- Shore HR, Training and appraisal
Vessel operators could use the assessment results to identify the weak areas and develop a plan to improve their standards. Operators can share their OVMSA assessments/submissions with potential charterers via the OCIMF’s OVMSA database for all prospective charterers to view.
OVMSA AND IMPORTANCE IN THE INDUSTRY
Charterers and Oil Majors seeking long term relationship and ‘time charter’, will invariably require companies to assess, prepare and upload their OVMSA self-assessment. More often than not, it would also entail the company to be actually assessed by an Oil Major.
The OVMSA addresses several issues beyond the ISM Code requirements, such as:
- Establishing performance indicators and benchmarks to measure performance
- Leadership and role of top management
- Recruitment standards for shore based and ship board staff
- Defining Environmental objectives to improve environmental performance
- System to monitor and control changes in process, people and other changes
- Well defined process of Risk Management
It complements industry codes (ISM and ISO/OHSAS standards), encourages self-regulation and promotes continuous improvement. Oil Majors encourage Vessel operators to conduct self-assessment and share with potential charterers via the OVMSA database. OVMSA rankings is rapidly gaining international credibility and acceptance as a commercial indicator/benchmark to assess an Offshore Operator’s HSE standards.
As a tool for driving up safety standards, the OVMSA is rapidly gaining international credibility and acceptance as a benchmark of an Offshore Operator’s HSE standards with significant commercial value as well.
BENEFITS OF OVMSA
Benefits of achieving good OVMSA rankings:
- Provides Customer/Charterer assurance of a company’s Management system standards based on accurate submissions.
- Enhances and improves Company’s performance during an external OVMSA audit.
- Enables a Company to assess their Management system against an accepted international standard and identify opportunities for improvement
- Significantly important for negotiating international business and charters.