OCIMF/INTERTANKO’S behavioural competency assessment

Jan 19 2022

OCIMF and Intertanko’s Behavioural Competency Assessment and Verification (BCAV) scheme is now 2 years old. We heard an update in a September 2021 webinar.

OCIMF and Intertanko launched a “Behavioural Competency Assessment and Verification (BCAV) scheme” for seafarers in November 2018. A webinar was held in September 2021 to provide an update on how the scheme is developing.


The scheme was developed with a recognition that the industry’s accident and spills record, although much better than a few decades ago, has reached a plateau. And while the industry has a structured system for technical or ‘hard’ skills, such as under STCW, it does not do much for the ‘soft’ or behavioural skills, said Frans Ubaghs, Vetting Manager at INTERTANKO.


The BCAV scheme is not rigid, it is designed as a flexible system which can be implemented to meet what a company needs, supplementing what they have already, said Luciana Maccarone of tanker operator d'Amico Societá di Navigazione Spa, and chair of INTERTANKO Human Element Committee.


It is not designed as a standard assessment system for the whole industry. “This is key to understanding the system.”


It is based around six 6 “competency domains”. How people collaborate with each other; their communication / influencing skills; their situation awareness; leadership and managerial skills; how they make decisions based on available information; and their focus on the needed results.


BCAV also includes guidance on how the skills should be assessed, including at sea, or using simulators.


Intertanko and OCIMF worked together so they could pull their collective expertise,


The collaboration between OCIMF and INTERTANKO has also led to a plan to develop a tanker accident database, and a program to look at incident investigation methodologies, she said.


“We know analysis of incidents in shipping show a major contributing factor is the human element,” she said.


Vicky Norris, BP

Vicky Norris of BP Shipping, and Vice Chair of OCIMF’s Human Factors Committee, said that human factors in safety management starts “by recognizing that people are a part of a system.”


“Human action or human oversight is essential to many of our risk barriers, including engineered barriers. We need human input into the design of the barrier, management and maintenance.”


For example, a system may involve a person detecting when a tank is full, and shutting off a valve, and if this is not done, the tank will overfill and spill.


“People are part of a complex system of relationship and interactions with other people, equipment, prosses and organisational culture.”


“Human factors” can be generally defined as “factors which influence a human's performance.”


That can include “organisation factors, social factors, physical, psychological factors, characteristics which affect this human's interaction with equipment, systems, prosses and other individuals and work teams.”


The cause of incidents is often attributed to people, which “gives us the impression that people cause the incidents.” But we can also see that most of the mistakes or erroneous decisions people make are a result of how the workplace is set up.


This can include equipment, control measures, and culture, which can be influenced by the leadership style. “If we can address these issues we can make people mor effective.”


In more granularity, issues which affect people’s ability to make the right decisions include equipment design, machine and human interface, labelling, processes and procedures, how we handle fatigue, communications and competency. Also training, the organisation of the work, and how people respond to situations they are in. These are “just some of the human factors that we can look at.”


“People's actions are rarely malicious, they often make sense to people at the time.”


“Looking at development of 'soft skills' - to interact with others - and respond to emerging situations - are equally important.”


“These skills (eg competency) _ can be affected themselves by poor communication [such as] procedures which are hard to follow, or how leaders respond when things go wrong.”



Neil Hunt with Chevron Shipping Company talked about the company’s experience implementing Behavioural Competency Assessment and Verification.


“We found that behavioural competence and skill sets is a continuously evolving program,” he said. People’s perceptions and behaviours are shaped by the company culture, the culture of individuals, the equipment, and the operations processes.


The aviation industry has been looking at behavioural skills since 1977, and Chevron has been looking at it since the early 2000s, initially as classroom sessions. In 2014 it started evolving the programs further.


“Behavioural skills are being reinforced through all our development programs, it’s not something we apply to just one area of operations,” he said.


“We provide feedback to individuals on behavioural competency, and how they use behavioural competencies to shape management style.”


A guiding principle is to recognise that error is normal. “People will make mistakes. Expecting humans to be perfect is not a reliable safeguard.” Human error “is never the root cause,” he said.


But it should be possible to develop systems which make it more difficult to make errors. “We can manage or prevent error-likely situations.”


This also involves understanding the reasons why people made mistakes and learning lessons from it, without blaming people. “Blame, we find, prevents improvements.”


“The majority of incidents stem from existing conditions, they are triggered by mistakes.”


“Violations of rules and procedures, we find, are very rarely malicious. They are well meaning behaviours - intending on getting the job done.”


“One of the most important areas is how we respond, it matters. Leaders contribute to shaping the conditions that influence what people actually do. It matters how leaders respond when things go wrong.”


“We need to focus on the context not the outcome, reshape how the organisation learns - by our reaction to failures. Learning from failure is an integral part of long term success.”


“The maritime environment is traditionally quite a hierarchical environment. We looked at leadership styles and how people can change styles to suit the situation.” People need to be able to “allow challenges to take place.”


“We look very closely at how we develop the monitoring strategies. We talk about closed communication to share the mental model in the team briefing and debriefing to build shared mental models,


“There's a very useful tool, ‘thinking aloud,’ we really promote.


“We've found the practical use of these tools in courses and simulations and onboard the ship has been very effective.”


“We have to change people’s attitudes before we change behaviour.”


Chevron Shipping has found that adopting these principles into all areas of operation and all levels of management “has been very effective in building the 'culture competence'”, he said.


It involves a mixture of classroom and simulator training.


Feedback is sought from mariners. “We make sure they are a key stakeholder in implementation of these programs. “We build the principles - into all the areas of operation onboard and into all the courses.”


“It also builds into developing clear development paths for them that build into a career ladder for progression within the fleet. This feeds into a wider managerial skill set which is transferrable.”


Maran Tankers / Angelicousis Group

Dimitris Fokas, training manager of the Angelicousis Group, which owns Maran Tankers Management, and Deputy Chair INTERTANKO Human Element Committee, talked about his experience with implementing BCAV.


Implementing BCAV during the COVID period was tricky, with people having bigger concerns than implementation of new system. It also meant that training could only be provided virtually. “We tried to do our best and see what we could do.”


“We are hoping we can go to the all fleet next year.”


The system was discussed during onboard audits and superintendent visits.


Ship masters are assessed on the instructions to junior officers, management of their team, decision making, communication, participation in the team, response to challenges. “We try to assess that as well together with technical skills.” There can be 15 different exercises in a 5 day course.


The exercises can be based around tricky tasks like turning a vessel “pivot point” in a sea with a current, a task which involves “decisions being taken on the spot”, and entering the Suez Canal Northbound as part of a convoy.


The final assessment is provided as scores of 1 to 5 on topics like ability to learn, willingness to learn, ability to train others, attitude.


Maran Tankers also provides training for office staff in soft skills, it is not just for seafarers. The company has hired an expert on soft skills training for its office staff.


“The main difficulty has always been how to incorporate training on soft skills within the simulator,” he said.


Scorpio Ship Management

“The world has recognised that soft skills are even more important than hard skills,” said Shashi Khanna, general manager of the fleet support team with Scorpio Ship Management.


Scorpio didn’t want to adopt the BCAV in full, because it was not seeking a completely new competency assessment program, but more ideas about how to improve its existing appraisal system.


It mapped some of the areas in BCAV, including its 6 “competency framework domains”, against its existing system.


Ocean Technologies

Ocean Technologies Group, a company formerly best known for its video based maritime training packages, under the name of VideoTel, is developing ways to integrate behavioural competency assessment with its learning management system.


The company has revised is mission to “empowering seafarers, and the maritime professionals that support and rely on them, to excel.”


“People understand the benefits but there's a lot of fear about the amount of work that will be required to implement one of these systems,” said Raal Harris, creative director of OTG.


Many companies need some convincing as to why it is worthwhile implementing a behavioural competency assessment system, to supplement the existing competency management systems they have, he said.


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