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Saturday, October 20, 2018


54% of claims caused by human error

While it is active failures that are the immediate direct cause of accidents, it is latent failures that create conditions in which active failures occur. They can also increase the severity of an accident.

Thus while the immediate reasons for marine pollution incidents may be clear, the underlying conditions which make them more likely to occur may not be, concludes the UK P&I Club.

Its statistics show that while major (over USD 100,000) insurance claims comprise just 2% of its total claims, they represent nearly three quarters of what is paid out. And while just over 25% of its pollution claims stem from structural, mechanical or equipment failure, well over 40% involve human error, on the part of ships’ officers as well as crew, pilots and onshore personnel. In fact 54% of all its claims (and 62% of funds paid out) are caused by human error. “You can’t prevent human error,” says UK Club consultant Malcolm Lowle, “but you can learn to predict how and when it can occur.”

With human error claims costing the maritime industry as a whole some USD 1.5m a day, the incentive for a P&I club to work on reducing human error is clear – in fact the UK Club has calculated that a 10% reduction in human error would save it USD 11m a year.

The UK Club is determined to try to pinpoint the root causes of accidents before they can cause damage. In doing this that it has started categorising failures into active failures and latent failures.

The active failures tend to be the obvious and immediate causes of an accident. The latent failures (or shortcomings behind the scenes) are divided into eleven categories, one or more of which will either help the accident to happen or aggravate it: procedures, hardware, design, maintenance, error-enforcing conditions (e.g. fatigue), housekeeping, incompatible goals, communication, organisation, training, defences.

The UK Club has produced a DVD/video called “No Room for Error”, which specifically draws links between active failures and latent failures. It focuses on five scenarios for collisions, personal injury, pollution, cargo damage, property damage. While not all happen on board tankers, all five are relevant to tanker operation.

“Incidents lead to loss of reputation, business, profits and jobs,” says UK Club Loss Prevention Director Karl Lumbers. “We can reduce them significantly by focusing on latent failures not just on active ones, and on situations not just on people. We have to think of errors as consequences rather than causes. We must always aim to prevent the next error, not the last one.”

For more information contact the London office.


A beam of light into the feeling of murky uncertainty

A beam of light into the feeling of murky uncertainty felt by many tanker players over single-hull phase-out, as EU unilateral regulation comes close to implementation with no guarantee that IMO international regulation will tie in with it …

Clarkson Research’s updated version of its Tankers in Transition report shows the effect on the tanker fleet of the Prestige casualty (11/02) and the ensuing pressure from Europe to speed up the phase-out of single-hull tankers.

For Category 1 (pre-MARPOL) tankers, EU and IMO are pretty well synchronised to a 2005 drop-dead limit. In fact, Clarkson analysis shows that while the 447 Category 1 tankers moved some 2m bbls/day of oil in 1h2003, only 9% of them have been involved in a fixture into or out of EU ports during 2003, “indicating that the EU response post-Prestige has already had an impact” – in other words these older tankers are already trading elsewhere.

For Category 2 and 3 tankers, on which IMO and EU are still not agreed, the figures in the main report show phase-out according to the latest EU regulations, with a huge peak in 2010. Since the latest EU regulations apply only in EU ports (and also, on a slightly different timescale in the ports of EEA countries and of countries joining the EU) and to EU/EEA owners, the reader has to draw his own conclusions as to whether owners will scrap their tankers according to EU phase-out or trade them elsewhere.

What is interesting is the impact of an agreement between the EU and IMO to extend the life of Category 2 tankers past 2010 to 20, 23 or 25 years of age, but not later than 2015. Using 20 year phase-out, this flattens the 2010 phase-out peak of 60.6m dwt to 20.5m, reducing down to 4.3m in 2015. Using 23 years, the 2010 peak becomes just 11.5m, though 24.8m would phase out in 2015. Using 25 years, the 2010 peak shrinks to just 4.2m, though the price is paid in 2015 with a new 38.7m dwt peak.

Tankers in Transition is obtainable (price £300) from Clarkson Research Studies in London. Phone 44 207 334 3134, fax 44 207 522 0330, e-mail