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South African chairs international safety meeting

South African chairs international safety meeting

Setting the safety training agenda

Chairing her first board meeting of the International Association for Safety and Survival Training (IASST) and seminar in Malaysia last week, Samantha Montes returned to South Africa with several insights on international trends in safety training including the move towards micro-learning initiatives.

According to Montes, convening board meetings every six months provides the committee with the opportunity to discuss developments in safety standards and training as well as visit international training centres. The meeting last week was hosted by Sribima Maritime Training Centre (SMTC) Malaysia.

“It is interesting to see how different countries are responding to safety training challenges,” says Montes adding that SMTC can cater for student numbers of 40,000 per year having introduced several shorter courses.

IASST’s mandate is to facilitate knowledge sharing without prejudice in the safety training space, and Montes emphasises the spirit of collaboration that exists even amongst competitors. “Our aim is to identify any gaps in the training system and pool our collective knowledge,” she explains. 

Montes notes that it is the understanding that every incident at sea impacts not only those directly involved in the accident, but also a community of families and dependents onshore, that underscores their commitment to strive for improvements.

“It is the lives and families within communities that are affected by a fatality. There was a presentation on how one fatality in the fishing industry impacts up to 300 people. So, it is not just an isolated person that is impacted, there is a whole community that becomes impacted by a lack of safety.”

At the beginning of her three-year term as chair Montes, who admits to finding it a little “daunting” stepping up to head the international association, says that it is this common goal to improve safety at sea that unites the membership.

Currently investigating the option of developing an IASST set of safety training standards, the committee is cognisant of not wanting to compete with existing standards, but has identified the need to fill some training gaps.

“It won’t happen overnight,” Montes admits, explaining that the current work is concentrated around what would be on the “wish list” as far as training standards are concerned.

A day of presentations followed the committee meeting and included input on the revised standards of training for fishing vessels contained within STCW-F as well as an update on safety within the offshore oil and gas sector.

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