For years our institute has been involved in the human factor management in the maritime industry : we have been the pioneers in ISM specialist training course proposed since 2000.
After more than 20 years of human factor implementation in our industry with the only objective being to reduce maritime accidents, we can start to take stock of the situation.
First analysis : in percentage the number of accident have reduced, but surprisingly the COSTA CONCORDIA disaster came in contradiction of these results. How is it possible a century after the TITANIC and almost 30 years after the HERALD of FREE ENTERPRISE such a tragedy can happen ?
We have nevertheless tried to apply the SOLAS and STCW conventions in a safety management process with numerous recommendations coming from our industry as the ISM code requires.
Apart from some poor vessels, old or badly managed, which have been in the news, suddenly on the evening of friday 13th of january in 2012, a splendid cruise liner full of happy people, has been opened like a tin of sardines on a well known rock close the touristic island of Giglio off the italian Med coast.
Big surprise, the causes of the accident are all down to the human factor : quality and behavior of her captain and his very bad implementation of the ISM and STCW codes ! One question : the modern decision making process, aboard human resources training courses (crisis management, human behavior and crew resource management) all of that were useless, why?
There is a strange fact : ISM training is only today starting to develop globally. The initial error has been to forget to include from the beginning a mandatory training in the code in 1993. In this job, it is true we don’t like to admit our own errors and finally the ISM training still does not clearly appear as mandatory.
Even in the commercial aviation industry or in the merchant marine, the human factor management under an international format, has tangible results and remains a fantastic objective. Very often improved by IMO by taking into account the feedback and also the real cost of implementation, the ISM code is one thing you cannot avoid and finally be able to manage all safety/security and marine environment protection from the smallest passenger ship up to these giant 10.000 persons passengers ships including the 20.000 containers box ships.
In a world where business is GOD, the loss of ships because of the human factor is not acceptable today.
To reach the acceptable, the maritime authorities in charge of control (FSC and PSC) need to show great determination and this is where the problem lies.
There are fewer and fewer maritime flag inspectors with less and less practical knowledge while on the other hand private organization inspectors are on the increase but do all of them have they enough experience ?
Regarding the salaries they offer it is not sure at all.
Cdt Bertrand APPERRY
AFCAN AFEXMAR IIMS HSM