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Unravelling causal factors of maritime incidents and accidents

Puisa, Romanas and Lin, Lin and Bolbot, Victor and Vassalos, Dracos (2018) Unravelling causal factors of maritime incidents and accidents. Safety Science, 110 (Part A). pp. 124-141. ISSN 0925-7535

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Abstract

Lessons from maritime accidents are conventionally used to inform safety improvements in design and operation of ships. However, this process is only as good as the core understanding derived from accident analysis is. The current explanation of accidents is limited to direct and contributing causal factors, whereas the role of a wider socio-technical context that has given rise to causal mechanisms behind major maritime accidents in recent years is left unexplained. The paper describes analysis results of maritime incidents and accidents occurred over the last decade with passenger ships, with the purpose to illuminate the prevailing causal factors, not least the systemic ones. The results show where the weak links in maritime safety control are (e.g., interactions between ship operators and equipment manufacturers), what their role in accident causation is, and how they can be strengthened. The study seeks to provide valuable input for enhancements in overall maritime safety control and proactive safety management at the ship and shipping company levels.