Whether it’s crew members on phones or an over-reliance on other forms of technology, fatigue, or a failure of organizational culture and behavior, human error remains a key safety issue for the maritime industry.
According to a previous Safety and Shipping Review by Allianz, human error accounts for the 75% of marine liability losses. In that regard, the quality of crew and ship owners’ overall safety culture are of increasing importance to risk assessment.
Different types of human factors problem occur at different levels of the organisation and require different management techniques. This is one of the 12 systemic human factors centric principles of error management as explained by James Reason, Professor Emeritus, University of Manchester in his book ‘’Managing Maintenance Error: A Practical Guide’’ (co-written with Alan Hobbs and published in 2003).
These principles are valid beyond aviation maintenance and are well worth re-visiting for the maritime industry as well for creating an effective error management.
12 Principles of Error Management
#1 Human error is both universal & inevitable
Human fallibility can be moderated but it can never be eliminated.
#2 Errors are not intrinsically bad
Success and failure spring from the same psychological roots.
#3 You can change the conditions in which humans work:
Identifying error traps are essential preliminaries to effective error management
#4 The best people can make the worst mistakes
The best people often occupy the most responsible positions so that their errors can have the greatest impact.
#5 People cannot easily avoid those actions they did not intend to commit
Blaming people for their errors is emotionally satisfying but remedially useless.
#6 Errors have a history
Discovering an error is the beginning of a search for causes, not the end.
#7 Many errors fall into recurrent patterns
Targeting those recurrent error types is essential.
#8 Safety significant errors can occur at all levels of the system
Error management techniques need to be applied across the whole system.
#9 Error management is about managing the manageable
Situations and even systems are manageable if we are mindful.
#10 There is no one best way
Different organisational cultures require different ‘mixing and matching’ of techniques.
#11 Error management is about making good people excellent
Improving the skills of error detection is vital
#12 Effective error management aims as continuous reform not local fixes
The aim is to contain whole groups of errors rather than single blunders
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