Nigel Koh, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of SOL-X Pte. Ltd., a Behavioral Based Safety company, outlines the key safety challenges of human factors and ways to mitigate risks onboard. Considering that lack of operational safety awareness amongst crew and inadequate work methods may lead to incidents/accidents at sea, it is important the industry to focus on equipping seafarers with the right tools and systems, Mr Koh highlights.
SAFETY4SEA: What are the key safety challenges related to human factors from your perspective?
Nigel Koh: 66% of maritime incidents and casualties are caused by human factors, based on the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) “2019 Annual overview of marine casualties and incidents Report”. Control of Work and Crew Wellbeing are in fact the top contributing elements to human factors accidents in this Report. The key safety challenges under Control of Work are administrative and disparate systems, lack of real-time visibility to ongoing operations, ship-shore coordination, and challenges of compliance assurance. On the Crew Wellbeing front, there is lack of crew situational awareness, efficacy of work rest hours programs and difficulty in measuring crew wellbeing campaigns.
S4S: What are the common conditions onboard that may lead to incidents/accidents at sea? What are your suggestions to minimize human errors?
N.K.: Human error has long been one of the most common factors for incidents/accidents at sea. Common conditions onboard that may lead to incidents/accidents at sea are lack of operational safety awareness amongst crew and inadequate work methods. Regarding crew welfare, a suboptimal workload management can lead to crew overwork and fatigue. There are also inadequate procedures between the ship and shore management. To meaningfully reduce incidents and accidents, the industry must focus on equipping seafarers with the right tools and systems. This will enable the right balance of crew empowerment and operational excellence for addressing Human Factors.
S4S: Tell us a few words about your solution. How does it promote positive crew behavior change?
N.K.: SAFEVUE.ai is an industry Behavioural Based Safety 4.0 system, centered around human factors. It combines enhanced Control of Work with a holistic approach to crew wellbeing, enabled by IoT and analytics. SAFEVUE.ai provides an integrated Control of Work software with streamlined workflows (Permits, Risk Assessments, Safety Checklists, etc) and industry best practices. Our game changing technology enables real time visibility to front line safety operations which enables improved crew situational awareness and compliance assurance of the right person, at the right location and at the right time working on the correct task. Our solution also empowers the crew to take ownership/accountability of their health and safety while encouraging positive behaviour change. In addition, we empower the crew to proactively manage workload and fatigue risk while enabling improved crew wellbeing through the SOL-X Watch.
S4S: What should operators consider with regard to their crew wellbeing and safety? What is your feedback from the market?
N.K.: Crew wellbeing and safety must be addressed holistically. Many solutions out there are addressing this problem in isolation. Strong Control of Work systems can only be achieved if the crew that conduct these processes remain in physically and mentally fit states. Yet with the current work methods, crew fatigue remains an issue and are leading to incidents as outlined in the Human Factors research. Digitalising and reducing manual processes while automating repetitive tasks can materially help save crew time, reduce their workload, and improve crew welfare. The key is to tie the context of work with the wellbeing of the crew.
S4S: How should we further invest in our people and how technology could come to our privilege towards that end?
N.K.: We should further invest in technology that empowers seafarers with the right tools to keep themselves safe. Interfaces must be seamless and human-centric, adapting to the unique hazardous working conditions they face. Investing in smart ship technology will improve operational visibility, situational awareness, and more efficient workflow management. On the AI front, leading indicators around operational excellence and safety compliance will enable more pre-emptive actions and proactive improvements to safety management systems.
S4S: What is your wish list for the operators with regards to human factor? What needs to be further considered to discussions around human factor?
N.K.: Incidents are often attributed to human involvement and gives the impression that people are the cause of these incidents. Human factors recognize that human error is not simply a feature of individual failure, but is caused by workplace factors, equipment and task design, and organizational conditions, which can lead to errors or poor decisions. By embracing solutions that provide real-time visibility and improved situational awareness, the crew can focus on the positive behaviours required to better manage risks for themselves and others around them. To meaningfully improve human reliability, vessel operators must also be willing to embrace new methods of improving safety that may mean pushing boundaries of today’s norm.
S4S: In your view, has the industry been successful in enhancing its safety performance? What should be the next steps?
N.K.: The industry may have become safer due to compliance with increasing regulations, but this approach has plateaued in its effectiveness and is starting to overwhelm the crew. Today, the crew is burdened by more administrative paperwork which has become counterproductive to its core purpose. As such, the crew spends more time filling out forms and less time actually focusing on the safety elements of the job at hand. Decrease in incidents will only come if we meaningfully mitigate the “Human Factors” risk. A positive recent development was the Oil Companies International Marine Forum (OCIMF) “Human Factors” framework, which highlights best practices to manage maritime risk.
S4S: If you could change one thing that would have an either profound or immediate impact on the safety performance across the industry, what this one thing would it be and why?
N.K.: Current safety solutions are inadequate in addressing “human factors”. Behavioral Based Safety (BBS) is the basis for operationalizing the human factors framework. To meaningfully reduce incidents and accidents, the industry must be bold and be ready to invest in the right solutions that can bring safety standards to a whole new level. The technology is available today, but the industry’s safety mindset and culture need to catch up. Crew welfare continues to be in the forefront of our minds due to COVID-19. Now is the time for the industry to support that paradigm shift.
S4S: What is your key message to operators to foster operational excellence in the COVID-19 era?
N.K.: With extended sailing times during COVID-19, reducing administrative burden through efficient digital workflows can help better manage mental and physical fatigue. Finally, more frequent monitoring of crew physical wellbeing through wearable technology can help to pre-empt serious health conditions before they occur. We, as an industry, need to continue to raise our efforts in improving crew welfare.
The views presented hereabove are only those of the author and not necessarily those of SAFETY4SEA and are for information sharing and discussion purposes only.
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