According to data collected by Propel, a maritime company dedicated to improving safety in the industry, human error is the leading cause of accidents. The company also found that while maritime companies place reducing human error as a top safety priority, few know how to achieve that goal. Using collaboration, Propel says, a large number of maritime accidents could be prevented in the future.
Frequency of Big Accidents Down, Risks Still on the Increase
The agency dedicated to maritime safety has collected data that show marine accidents are a major issue in the industry. While the total number and frequency of major incidents has decreased, demonstrating a greater commitment to safety by maritime companies, the risk of accidents happening is still high and expected to rise. According to Propel, a typical day in the industry sees three deaths and 30 injuries. A ship is lost entirely every other day.
As ships get larger and more complex, accident risk is only increasing. Part of the reason for the increased risk in spite of fewer actual accidents, is that the potential consequences of maritime accidents are growing larger.
Human Error to Blame for Accidents
Shipping accidents have been reduced overall due to a commitment by many of the big maritime companies to using technology and training to improve safety. More regulations have also helped to reduce the frequency of incidents. But, according to Propel, human error is still the number one cause of accidents, and while companies want to reduce human error, their current safety practices do not help achieve that goal.
Propel believes that one way in which most companies fail to reduce injuries, deaths, and shipping losses is by not managing accidents and failures when they happen. Failures in shipping are inevitable, but dealing with them immediately can actually prevent accidents, and reduce serious consequences such as injuries and fatalities. Too many companies, Propel says, focus on doing things right the first time and not enough on managing the failures that are bound to occur.
The Importance of Collaboration
Safety training going forward must focus not just on improving the performance of individuals, but of teams and on improving collaboration to manage mistakes and to prevent accidents. The idea is to model this kind of training on what has been done in the airline industry over the last couple of decades, putting more emphasis on managing failures through collaboration. According to Propel’s data, this kind of focus on collaborating has the potential to reduce maritime accidents by as much as 75 percent.
3-D Simulation Training
One strategy that Propel is suggesting for better collaboration and error management is to use a unique three-dimensional simulation. These interactive simulations would use gamification to help individuals and teams learn from real-world situations. In addition to working through scenarios, these simulations would use competition, team work, recognition, and achievement to motivate and teach workers how to operate more safely and manage errors as they occur.
Propel admits that tools like this and ideas for changing safety training and ideology will require serious commitment from management. Maritime company management must be prepared to focus on collaboration and the management of mistakes to help make shipping and other maritime activities safer.