A few months ago, I visited a ship all excited to put my knowledge about ‘learning from what goes well’ into practice. I thought I knew perfectly well what I needed to make it work. Instead of focusing on accidents, I will focus on everyday work, pay careful attention to the context, observe the gap between documented manuals and ‘real’ work and encourage people to talk about what really works. Simple.
Let’s go back some 18 years in time. The local time was 03.10. I was standing my watch as a Second Officer on a large container vessel, bound for Irago Pilot Station in Japan in the next 90 minutes. On a container ship bound for a Japanese port, the concept of ‘estimated time of arrival’ actually means accurate time of arrival.
In recent years, the spread of inspections and other forms of enforcement (audits, surveys, vetting, assurance etc.) has reached a stage of ‘explosion’ in terms of both 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.