One of the fundamental human skills needed by those working in the maritime industry is that of changing mindsets.
At the core of Human Factors is the move away from blaming the personnel
whose actions ultimately triggered the incident/accident. This change of
mindset is potentially the most important skill to develop. Blaming and firing an individual(s) does not solve the problem.
It may be viewed as being quick, efficient and convenient, but the root causes are still there, on the surface or deeply buried away, forgotten or not known about.
Changing mindsets also include viewing the human not as weak, unreliable, lazy and reckless, but as competent, reliable,capable and professional. This can only be achieved if the human is given the right training, has a chance to use his/her skills on a regular basis, is motivated and is working in the right environment - both the physical working environment and the cultural environment which includes the prevailing safety culture.
We can't change the human, but we can change the environment and conditions in which Justin Caird-Daley, Human Factors Specialist, Involve Consulting, Norway, www.involveconsulting.com we work. But, the most experienced, most motivated, dedicated and well trained personnel can also make the worst mistakes!
The phrases 'must pay more attentio 'why can't they be more careful' and 'not
vigilant enough' are often used when talking about the way people behave
- such phrases do not help in any way and I would urge a move away from using these expressions.
The important human skill here is to understand what is actually meant by attention and vigilance and how we perform as humans, looking at both our mental and physical capabilities and limitations.
Another important change of mindset skill is to see human error as not just the actions performed by the end user, but to understand how we are involved in all parts of a system and hence how and why 'human errors' are something that can be made by anybody involved in each part of the system.
For example: During aroutine crane operation in strong winds,a load slips off the pallet forks and lands on the quay narrowly missing quayside personnel. Was the accident solely due Changing mindsets to crane driver error or supervisor error?Could the accident have happened on another shift/watch with a different crane driver? Was the driver unlucky that it happened to him? Or was the accident due to a combination of poor equipment design and insufficient training? Was there a factor that was missed by the classification agency design rules or by 3rd party warranty surveyors during an inspection? Was there over reliance on use of procedures to control risk? Was it a scenario nobody thought could ever happen?
Understanding organisational or latent factors such as these and how and why they occur is such an important skill to develop.
We are the key part of complex systems.As humans we design, build, operate, train,inspect, maintain, regulate, enforce and ultimately we punish. We design automated systems, which produce a whole set of challenges for the human operator.
Without developing all of these changes of mindset skills, existing or new safety programmes will struggle and potentially not succeed.
Reproduced with the permission of Alert!, The International Maritime Human element bulletin www.he-alert.org