Teekay Shipping was named Shipping Company of the Year at the International Seafarers’ Welfare Awards 2019 in September. We spoke to Colin Barr, Director of Quality Assurance & HSE Services at Teekay, after the awards ceremony to find out more about the company and what it does for its crew.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your role at Teekay.
I joined Teekay in November 1997 and served as a deck officer in our tanker fleet for 9 years, before transitioning ashore in 2006. After serving in a number of shore based positions in operations, projects and HSEQ, I moved into the Director, QA and HSE Services role in June 2017. As the name suggests, the company’s internal audit program is managed within the department. We have a team of Quality Assurance Training Officers (ex-seafarers from our fleet) who board our vessels to conduct audits and to provide mentoring and training for our seafarers. The Services component of the role deals with HSE related systems, back up support and working closely with our fleet heads and HSEQ teams on common HSE related programs such as mental health.
Why would a seafarer want to work for Teekay?
From humble beginnings through our founder Torben Karlshoej, Teekay has gained a reputation for being a company that takes care of its people. We recognize the value of our people and the great work that our seafarers do. Those new to Teekay are welcomed in and quickly become a part of the great culture that we have.
What do you feel makes Teekay stand out among other shipping companies in terms of seafarers’ welfare provision?
I feel the critical part of this is recognizing the challenges facing our seafarers and understanding what is important to them. We have conducted surveys to establish social climate, interaction and wellbeing and have run combined workshops involving Marine HR, seafarers and experts from the medical and employee support fields. From our initial baseline and appreciation of the important issues, Teekay’s recent focus has been directed more towards awareness. Mental health and wellbeing forms part of our fleet conference agendas and we produce quarterly articles related to wellbeing such as managing fatigue, reducing stress and mindfulness techniques. We have a tailored employee assistance program in place, hold regular get together events on board our vessels and our team in Manila hold events for seafarers on leave such as an annual seafarer sports day. The role played by the seafarers is paramount. We get very few calls through our helpline and this is a result of the seafarers themselves who create a positive environment, interact and look after one another and have their own great wellbeing practices on board.