Marine Design International

Student Study into Human Factor in Marine Accidents

Student Study into Human Factor in Marine Accidents

Friday, 3 September 2021 / Posted in

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For generations, technological advancements have boosted the ever-evolving global maritime fleet.
However, the maritime industry has, for some time, failed in one aspect of global shipping, safety
occurrence analysis.
The human factor is said to be the main cause of safety occurrences or accidents in the maritime
sector, yet safety occurrence analysis methods being employed are unable to systematically analyse the human involvement and pre-existing conditions which contribute to an incident.

This project implemented the Systematic Occurrences Analysis Methodology (SOAM), adopted from the aviation industry to general cargo vessel grounding incidents. The study identified the most contributing human involvements were shortcomings in the observation and interpretation of vital information. The most frequently contributing pre-existing conditions were identified as issues
surrounding workplace conditions and the attitudes and personality of crew.

The project highlighted the potential of improving and enhancing maritime safety occurrence
investigations by adopting techniques used in similar industries, with an overall aim of improving
maritime safety.

There are many potential interventions which could be employed with an aim of reducing the
maritime safety incidents. From the study carried out, various areas were identified as errorpromoting conditions. Recommendations to address these issues were discussed extensively withing the study.

A few examples of recommendations are:

  • Introducing global mandatory regulations regarding the effective use of Bridge Navigational Watch Alarm System (BNWAS)
  • Ensure bridge layout design is adequate and stimulates personnel to fulfil duties
  • Eradicate lone-watches, particularly during period of darkness

The introduction of autonomous vessels and artificial intelligence systems looks to be the forward
direction of our industry, which is very exciting. However, it is vital to recognise the importance and value of the human element with regards to experience-based decision making and judgement onboard vessels.

On progressing from my academic studies to my industrial career, I hope to take forward my
understanding of the unpredictability of the human element and the paramount importance of
safety within the maritime sector. I hope to provide a positive contribution to the maritime industry
throughout my career.
Fraser Allan