There is an old saying “That if you think safety is expensive, try an accident”.

The possibility of injuries is an inherent risk and seagoing staff are exposed to these risk in the daily work on board and this is the reason why personal injury claims traditionally account for one third of the P&I claims year on year. These injuries are causing pain and suffering to people and their loved one.

The trend is that junior ranks and the people physically involved in carrying out the tasks (fitters, able seaman, bosun etc) are more susceptible to onboard injuries, however recent trend also shows that senior office are also getting injured and the question is “Why senior also get injured when they drive safety” and supposed to “lead by example”.

As per industry data, Human element, wet & slippery surfaces and Housekeeping issues are the main contributors of Slips, Trips and Falls injuries and this is due to poor safety culture, walkway obstructions, poor housekeeping, workplace restrictions etc.

Injuries do not just “happen” but are “caused”, normally due to the human element.  A Crew member’s behaviour is an essential factor which can influence the safe outcome of the task so it is important to adopt enhanced measure to ensure the safety culture is deeply embedded by focusing on this aspect of human element.

These injuries will continue to happen till the companies do not tackle these behaviour-based issues which is not effectively used on board.

  • Mentoring and Leadership
  • Complacency – Hurry to complete the job - Tendency to take short cuts
  • Inadequate hazard identification- Distractions at work?
  • Inadequate risk mitigation measures
  • Failure to apply training and lessons learnt
  • Donning of PPE

Most of the time, keep your hands and feet in sight at all times and provide proper mentoring and guidance to junior officers is a very simple way to mitigate these injuries, so key factors are:

  • Clear leadership, risk awareness and accountability
  • Eliminate the danger, watch and protect your fingers.
  • Situational awareness – watch your fingers
  • Do not ignore safety, wear PPE
  • Identify hazards and use the Stopper card effectively – Remember Risk assessment is a mindset, not just a piece of paper
  • Situational Awareness – look after yourself and your team.
  • Keep one hand for the ship and one for yourself


The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of SAFETY4SEA and are for information sharing and discussion  purposes only.


Capt. Atul Vatsa is  Founder & Director at AV Global Marine PTE LTD