Category Archives: Papers

Did you spot the elephant in the room? The non-sense of performance indicators and metrics

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Combining human efforts with technological advances to deliver services faster, better and cheaper has been a core ambition of management science (if there was such a discipline!) — at least since the start of the industrial revolution. But over time, machinery tends to wear out and men become lazy and complacent. Both need to be managed, not least for efficiency […]

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Light Bulbs, Red Lines and Rotten Onions: Debunking the Myths of the Safety Management Systems

In January 2015, the pure car and truck carrier (PCTC) Hoegh Osaka developed a severe list on departing from Southampton, and was left stranded outside the port for more than 19 days. The official investigation revealed how decision making became the victim of production pressures. The vessel sailed from port without determining accurately the stability conditions upon completion of cargo.

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When Less is More: Managing Safety in Time Critical Operations

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The article examines an accident investigation report and provides an alternative to the conventional ‘human error’ approach to managing safety in time critical operations in the maritime sector. 

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Boxing and Dancing: The Challenges of Enforcement in Global Shipping

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In recent years, the spread of inspections and other forms of enforcement (audits, surveys, vetting, assurance etc.) has reached a stage of ‘explosion’ both in terms of scope and frequency. There is a real concern that the enforcement regime, i.e. compliance with rules, regulations and industry standards, has fallen victim to its original intentions of managing safety risks. Many seafarers I […]

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Accidents at Sea: Causes or Constructs?

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If limiting liability trumps real action on vessel safety, then astute lawyers and shrewd solicitors should make a better choice than safety departments.

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Lost Control, Just Stay in Command: What it Means to be a Ship Captain?

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The previous year witnessed two experienced ship captains being humiliated and eventually criminalized. Accidents, with no evil intentions, were turned into acts of crime. So strong was this perception that even veteran captains and the so called ‘experts’ within the profession found it difficult to understand the ‘erratic’ behaviour and ‘selfish’ actions of the captain in one case, let alone […]

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Enclosed Space Operations: Do We Understand the Risks

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Enclosed spaces have claimed so many lives and resulted in even more serious injuries. Here is my paper that attempts to examine the problems with our current understanding of risks associated with enclosed spaces.  

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FRAM: A Systems Approach to Risk Management and Incident Investigation

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Functional Resonance Analysis Method A brief description of Functional Resonance Analysis Method. The key strength of this methodological approach is that it could be applied to both accident investigations (regression) and risk management (forecasting).  

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Caught in Numbers, Lost in Focus: Safety Management in Global Shipping

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Study after study has been conducted on safety management without ever engaging critically with the term safety or examining how it became one with the science of management. Producing comprehensive accounts of all ‘unharmed’ and ‘uninjured’ events is mundane and resource-intensive. Instead, the alternative approach is to examine harm and injuries both potential and actual. What we get is ‘unsafety management’. If we regard management […]

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Risk Assessment at the Sharp End

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There is not much evidence to show that risk assessments, at least in their current form, are contributing to enhanced awareness of risks in the operational environment. In 1966, the collapse of a coal mine in the Welsh village of Aberfan resulted in the killing of 116 children and 28 adults. Following the disaster, Lord Robens proposed a shift away from […]

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