Introducing T-CUP: The next milestone on our safety journey

Introducing T-CUP: The next milestone on our safety journey
Randhir Mahadik
General Manager and Head of FLEET Care
Published 12 Jan 2022

For more than a decade, FLEET’s flagship safety programme SafeR+ has been the bedrock of our crew safety training and demonstrated proven results both in terms of safety performance onboard our vessels as well as cultivating a strong safety culture among our crew. This year, we developed and rolled out a new component called T-CUP (Total Control Under Pressure) to further enhance and complement our broader SafeR+ programme.

T-CUP looks at safety from a behavioural and mindset perspective and was designed to bring about an attitudinal shift in our seafarers. It incorporates psychological principles of modelling, positive reinforcement, and token economy to tap into the inherent human potential to act in a safe manner for the benefit of the individual as well as for the collective group.

Being alert and FRESH is how a crew member can be in Total Control Under Pressure. Here are the five T-CUP principles that form the foundation of the programme:

  1. Free from worries. Look after your psychological wellbeing. Talk about what’s on your mind. Keeping problems to yourself is not always the right thing to do.
  1. Rested and mentally alert. When you’re fatigued you make poor decisions. Eat healthy. Drink lots of water. Get a good night’s sleep.
  1. Early to sight, share and learn from every near miss. This develops your early warning system. Talk about near-misses openly, to address the root causes before a real incident happens.
  1. Social: you’re part of a team. Make the effort to get to know your colleagues as ‘brothers at sea’. Build trust-based relationships.
  1. Happy to clarify. Double-check instructions you don’t understand. No short-cuts. Repeat what you’re about to do. Surgeons do this all the time – so why not you?

Maritime work, and more specifically, working onboard a ship comes with inherent risks and hazards. Learning how to deal with situations while under pressure and still have the ability to control emotions or feelings of anxiety is a level of self-awareness that’s built into the mindset. Our belief is that once you get your mindset right then safe behaviour becomes second nature. It is on this basis that T-CUP was developed.

The purpose of enhancing our safety programme to focus on a person’s mindset is because of what can happen when someone isn’t able to perform their job safely because their mind isn’t right. They might be worrying about something that is going on back home, or they might be struggling with anxiety. When a person finds themselves getting lost in their thoughts, they become more internally focused and less aware of their surroundings. When this happens, the probability of an accident increases significantly.

The T-CUP programme features several tips, tools, and strategies to help a crew member understand and create the right mindset to set them up for success. Here are a few examples of them:

  1. A S.T.A.R. (See + Tools + Actions + Respect) observation template that can be easily completed as part of a daily 10-minute observation exercise. The goal is to learn how to visually see and notice when a colleague is carrying out safe behaviour, and when there is an opportunity to correct unsafe behaviour.
  1. A guide on how to conduct a ‘pull-style’ coaching technique, which trains you to ask the right questions – versus telling people what to do. This technique empowers our colleagues to think for themselves.
  1. Using Toolbox meetings to start the day. It’s a good way to ensure clarity with what jobs or tasks are planned for the day and how it should be carried out safely.
  1. Practical and easy activities, challenges and games packaged as a “31 Day T-CUP Challenge” to create engagement among the crew while providing education around the T-CUP methodology and guiding principles.
Toolbox meeting

In addition to these practical and tangible tips and exercises, the programme involves a significant amount of training that helps participants dive deeper into understanding how factors like mental health, getting a good night’s rest, developing trust-based relationships, and sharing key learnings with our colleagues are all part and parcel of building a strong culture of safety onboard our vessels. The training material is robust in exploring these topics in great detail using language and a narrative that is easy to understand and relatable for our crew.

At FLEET, we always say that safety starts in your head and your heart. It’s about caring enough to look after yourself and going the extra mile to also care for your colleagues. We encourage our seafarers to follow the FRESH steps and build them into their ways of working, so everyone can feel confident in their ability to be in Total Control Under Pressure.