Maritime Accidents: Real Root of the Cause

Over the last couple decades, the shipping industry has taken great strides in improving the structures of sea vessels, and subsequently their efficiency, reliability, and safety. Many aspects of design have been exponentially improved- hull design, stability and propulsion systems, and navigational equipment to name some of those most major. Especially in lieu of the constant technological advancements of our day, ship systems are more reliable than ever before. It may be puzzling then to ship owners and employers why accidents still happen. To answer this, one might look away from ship structures as the source and look instead to the people who operate them. According to Williams Kherkher, although great strides have been taken to make this industry safer for the men and women who work aboard seafaring vessels, these workers are still at a higher risk of sustaining a workplace injury than many others. About 75-96% of maritime accidents are caused by human error. Some of the most common (and often undetected) contributors to human errors are:

  • Design of technology without user in mind- large scale manufacturing of system parts aren’t always created with the various differences in potential user profile in mind. (i.e. a piece of equipment meant to be used outside made with data keys too small to operate with a gloved hand, equipment designed with less than ideal access for smaller operators)
  • Environment: The human body operates best at a slightly restricted temperature, and anything aside from this can affect performance
  • Organizational factors: Possibly the most overlooked aspect of smooth operations, crew organization and company policies have a high impact on overall performance of employees. An open and honest interactive communication culture in the workplace promotes teamwork and freedom for employees, reducing risk taking that may occur under a strict hierarchical command system.

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