A theses by safety expert


1. Aim

2. Introduction

3. Definitions

4. Limitations

5. Argument

6. Methods

7. Roadblocks

8. Suggestions

9. Challenges and Conclusion

10. References


To understand by logic and rationale how HUMAN FACTORS affect safety onboard our ships, and by this understanding enhance safety and performance by holistic effort of every individual in the organisation.


Much has been said and talked about safety and its ingredients over the years.

So much so, that we have called Safety as a “CULTURE” and Safety as a “WAY OF LIFE”

The most prominent markings onboard a ship are the words “SAFETY FIRST”

There have been numerous research studies, surveys, data accusations and analysis, modelling, case studies, planning, development of tools and techniques, procedures, checklists, audits and what nots

Yet, we continue to make mistakes.

Of the various components that constitute “Safety” as a topic of study, we will be discussing the

“Human Element” of it.


According to a definition shared by the World Health Organisation, human factors “refer to environmental, organisational and job factors, and human and individual characteristics which influence behaviour at work in a way which can affect health and safety”

How human factors can shape the Safety Culture?

According to (IAEA 2009), safety culture should be based on a set of safety ‘beliefs’ (assumptions) and on a code of conduct that reflects the right attitude to safety which is held in common by all individuals in the organization.


A google search using the keywords “Human Factors in Safety” results in 960 Million results in 0.58 seconds

(as of 25th Feb 2021) – With time, the numbers are poised to grow, and the time clocked for search will be reduced .

Our ability to make sense of data is not keeping pace with our ability to collect and generate it

By knowing more, we may actually know less.

Other Factors –

  • Lack of relevant data.
  • Lack of access to previous studies, if any.
  • Time Constraints.
  • Unstable internet connection and rough weather.


There are many views, logics, rationalisations, graphs, scholarly articles and the likes, but most of the studies intend to dissect further and then specialise, analyse, interpret and absolve each element to find solutions as they have done in the past.

Reviewing incident reports reveals that there is a long history of human factors causing incidents

These safety models require failure as a pre-requisite for failure, and put little emphasis on creation of local rationality by those who make multiple small decisions.

Such mammoth number of man-hours, efforts and research, they all seem to agree on one basic fact- Risks from Human Factors cannot be fully eliminated.

Clearly, anymore effort in this direction isn`t going to lead to a solution anytime soon.

Let us start with a non-traditional way of looking at things.

Most defined and documented safety practices are logic-oriented.

Human behaviour, on the other hand, is not.

Most behaviours are intuitive, based on gut feeling, conditioning, experience and emotion-based.

A Safety Supervisor in a petrochemical refinery once notoriously said –

” Safety would be simple if we just didn’t put people in there.”

But, really?

Is the human a problem to control or a solution to harness?

People are not the instigators of failure, they are the recipients of it, the inheritors

We need to trade our vocabularies of control, constraint, and human deficit for new vocabularies of empowerment, diversity and human opportunity.

The same people who cause errors and accidents are the same people who design, build, maintain and improve the process in the first place.

Humans are not a limitation, but stand for innovation, integrity and responsibility.


Safety consciousness may be defined as awareness of hazards and alertness to danger. This has a strong influence on the actions of an individual because of his desire to remain alive and uninjured. Imagine that, as your boss, I give you a checklist of safety protocols to follow and I reward you for not having workplace injuries or accidents, that old, top-down approach was never very successful, and in fact, was finally addressed by OSHA a few years ago for fear that it could discourage workers from reporting incidents.” Rather, building a culture that inspires people to be safety conscious at work all day, every day, regardless of who may or may not be watching, is by far a better strategy

The psychological and behavioural aspects of Human Factors deal with the mind and the way it works affecting decision making.

In the words of E. Scott Geller, alumni distinguished professor of psychology at Virginia Tech

“Safety can’t be a mindless habit; it requires mindfulness”

No study in Human Factors would be complete without taking into account the human mind.

The mind is the most sophisticated machine that we know of.

Everything that we see around us, it was merely a speck in the form of an idea in someone`s mind at some point. If one is committed to a cause, it is just a matter of time before the idea turns into a reality.

If people can realize their true potential, and be conscious of it, the day is not far where we shall be “Accident Free “

The goal of developing safety consciousness within the crew, requires continual reinforcement at every level—not just for front-line workers. Safety must “get into the DNA,”

An example of a major corporation that has done just that, here is an excerpt from an article in HR Magazine –

“During her visit to the DuPont company—long heralded as a leader in worker safety—at its corporate headquarters in Wilmington, Del., senior managers started a meeting by pointing out the exit doors.

“I remember almost starting to laugh because I thought they were making fun of themselves or being playful,” Edmondson recalls. “Then I had this kind of sudden awareness that they were serious, that this was second nature, and this is what they do routinely.”


  • Do You really know what`s happening ?
  • The Big Picture and Fine Detail
  • Constantly update your awareness
  • Actively Seek Inputs from others
  • Never “Assume” another`s intentions
  • WHIM – ask : What have I missed ?

Safety awareness is a constant realization every employee must have at all times. It cannot be transient; it is a permanent value.

It has to be a second nature. It should come as easily and effortlessly as breathing. Such a radical change in thought process, across the whole fleet, though may seem unrealistic, but is not impossible. We just need to find the right techniques to instil the idea in people`s subconscious. Just like how The Renaissance changed the world in just about every way one could think of. … Behind it was a new intellectual discipline: perspective was developed, light and shadow were studied, and the human anatomy was pored over – all in pursuit of a new realism and a desire to capture the beauty of the world as it really was

Let’s pledge bring a SAFETY RENAISSANCE into existence.

Jitesh Godara
3/E, BW Maritime

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