Reinforcing the responsibility of vessel supervisors in HSE

Being a supervisor brings with it several challenges. Apart from managing themselves and their activities, supervisors also manage a number of individuals of different ages, nationalities, cultures and educational backgrounds, ensuring their safety and well-being, sometimes helping them to manage problems, and working with them to overcome the difficulties encountered in the drive to achieve a common objective.

The harsh reality is that the most common cause of accidents involving Saipem personnel is lack of proper knowledge of and failure to use the Company’s operational and HSE tools. Data indicate that many of these accidents also directly involve experienced supervisors.

To address this situation, two workshops were organised in Paris by Saipem, attended by over 150 participants, more than 110 supervisors, 30 vessel management teams and 9 senior management representatives. Each workshop lasted a day and a half. The first workshop took place on October 2-3, and the second on December 3-4, 2013.

Offshore vessel supervisors had the opportunity to meet vessel and company management outside their normal working environment and to talk about their responsibilities and expectations. Through practical exercises, the workshops provided insights into the supervisors’ perceptions of their own role and the role and responsibilities of key vessel figures such as Master, Superintendent and HSE Engineer.

The aim of these workshops was to make supervisors realise exactly what their role and responsibilities are. They were reminded first and foremost that they are managers of a team of people with whom they have to carry out an activity. The second element reinforced was that each such activity starts with proper planning, preparation of tools, risk analysis, correct use of HSE management tools, workplace inspections, and communication with the team members under supervision to confirm they are fully aware how to perform their duties. The Company expects all of these tasks to be carried out before operations commence. This is what becoming a responsible supervisor really means.

Through re-enacting an incident and analysing the causes of the event, supervisors were reminded of the importance of safe workplaces and also that they have the authority to stop works if a situation is deemed unsafe and to empower their teams to act accordingly. The workshop was organised in a dynamic atmosphere that encouraged dialogue and proactive thinking, stimulating self-awareness through continuous exercises, experience-sharing and creative tools, thereby stimulating individual and collective commitment.

The welcome speech by representatives of Saipem Senior Management on the first day, and their presence during the activities of the second day, reinforced the key messages of the workshop and helped supervisors to develop a different understanding and to clarify the issues raised during the various exercises and discussions. Feedback from the supervisors at the end of the workshops indicated that they now realised what the differences are between their perceptions of their role and the actual role itself. They said that they were very pleased to have had the opportunity to discuss the challenges they face every day both with their direct management and with Company management.


Saipem’s model of industrial relations focuses primarily on ensuring relations with trade unions that are fair, transparent and compliant with the international conventions and transnational agreements that the Company has signed. It also involves ensuring the optimal management of relations with trade unions and employers’ associations, as well as with political institutions and public bodies.
January saw the renewal of the national collective labour agreement for the Energy and Oil sector, the contract under which the majority of the Company’s Italian resources are employed.

In international industrial relations, 2013 witnessed the signing of important collective labour agreements for Engineering & Construction sector workers in Angola and Mexico and Drilling sector workers in Nigeria. In July, Saipem Beijing Technical Services Co Ltd of China signed a collective labour agreement after the growth registered in the workforce made the formation of a representative committee possible under local legislation.

In view of the impending conclusion of drilling operations in Algeria, in 2013 a detailed meeting was held with the union to define methods for handling the inevitable redundancies arising. In May, a strike involving 243 employees lasted a total of 16 days. However, negotiations led to an agreement with the union covering the Drilling sector.

At Saipem do Brasil the groundwork was laid for the signing of a new collective labour agreement for the workers employed in the Guarujá Yard, which is expected to take place in early 2014. Negotiations in both Algeria and Brazil involved changes to the content of the collective agreements to bring them in line with the applicable legislation, with the Company operating in full respect of the workers’ freedom of association and trade union prerogatives.