The role of human behaviour in safety at sea

The authors of the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) book The Human Element: a guide to human behaviour in the shipping industry - have teamed up with a maritime training film maker to produce a film about the role of human behaviour in safety at sea.

The film uses a dramatic story to show how a series of relatively minor oversights and misjudgements by different crew members can work together to create a major incident at sea. The film shows how the story unfolds from the very different perspectives of each of the five crew members involved.

Iain Bruce, Health and Safety Manager & DPA at BP Shipping Ltd, tells how this film has been put to good effect as a teaching aid.
The MCA publication The Human Element: a guide to human behaviour in the shipping industry has been well received in BP Shipping and has raised our awareness of how states of mind, decisions and behaviours impact and affect not only the way that we work, perform and act but also how these actions can and will affect those around us.
My previous experience as an investigator for BP Shipping’s Marine Incident Investigation Team has shown me that one common theme in any incident is that there is always an element
of human interaction that either had a direct causal link to an incident or contributed to it.
The challenge for me has always been how best to make the link between the content and themes contained within the book and everyday situations, bringing the contents and themes to life so that everyone can understand them.
In BP Shipping we used to do this with case studies to tell the story of an incident, asking individuals what they would have done in a similar situation as the story unfolds. This was successful to a degree, but the difficulty came when trying to relay the human element behind these cases.
This year the fleet operations team has been using the newly released Human Element DVD at its regular sea staff briefing sessions. The DVD tells the story of a series of relatively minor, seemingly unconnected, events which together culminate in the grounding of a vessel. The feedback we have received thus far, following these sessions, has been excellent. The content has been described as thought provoking and insightful. The DVD has also been used with the shore staff with similar success and praise.
The Human Element DVD does deliver a clear message that we all act and behave differently in different situations and under different external and internal pressures. The one element that underpins our operations, both ashore and at sea, and which is so difficult to predict is the human being - our interaction with other people and with the equipment we use to carry out our duties. It is therefore critical to understand this if we are to continue to improve and grow the safety cultures and standards right across the industry. The comprehensive understanding and corresponding application of the human element are keys to that success.
The Human Element: a guide to human behaviour in the shipping industry can be downloaded from: human_behaviour_in_the_shipping_industry.pdf