REGISTRAR OF NEWSPAPERS OF INDIA
NO: DELENG / 2017 / 70663
official media partner of national maritime foundation
EXCLUSIVE COLUMN
EXCLUSIVE
Capt. PRABHAT RANJAN: A NEAR MISS
By SEA AND COAST | 01/07/2017

Capt. Prabhat Ranjan 

(Master Mariner)

 

Maritime industry has been criticized as being limited and reactive by solving yesterday's problems. Generally people focus on collecting data only on events that meet the threshold of a reportable accident, and often with the objective of identifying liability and culpability. As a result, tremendous near misses remain uncovered.

 

A safety triangle theory postulates that about 600 near misses may cause one injury. Heinrich's pyramid revealed that behind a major accident there are 300 minor accidents or near-misses.

A Near-miss is an unplanned and unforeseen event which does not cause injury or damage but which could result in injury or loss under different circumstances.

It is argued that the only difference between near-miss and actual accident is luck.

Considering Murphy's Law “if it can happen, it will happen.” We can't control luck, but we can prevent accidents by paying attention to the 'early warnings'.

As of my experience, if you board a ship and look at the narrow misses or the untoward incidents reported from that particular ship, irrespective of the analysis data, the same is bound to happen on your ship if proper attention is not paid.

I always advise my employees to avoid repeating same mistakes that can bring us to a brink of narrow mishaps or fatal accidents.

Most of the narrow mishaps are on account of failure to use PPE? The causes of failure may range from inappropriate behavior, improper communication besides lack of knowledge/skill, defective tool, equipment or machinery, lack of maintenance, incorrect use of equipment or machinery, poor housekeeping etc.

Shipping might be said to be a rather safe industry for the decreasing frequency of major accidents, considering the billions of tons of material shipped on the high seas every year.

However, Iarossi notes that the magnitude of damage inflicted by a major shipping accident increases the public attention paid to those accidents, and negatively influences the perceived safety of shipping.

American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) reviewed that in the past several decades, accidents such as the Erica, Exxon Valdez, Prestige, Amoco Cadiz, Braer, and Sea Empress have increased the public and political pressure to improve the safety and have sparked the writing of new laws or amendments to existing laws and international conventions in a reactive manner.

Maritime industry has been criticized as being limited and reactive by solving yesterday's problems.

Generally people focus on collecting data only on events that meet the threshold of a reportable accident, and often with the objective of identifying liability and culpability.

As a result, tremendous near misses remain uncovered. Recognizing signals before an accident clearly offers the potential of improving safety, and many industries have attempted to develop programs to identify and benefit from near-misses reporting programs.

Borbidge addresses that the success of the FAA/NASA's Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS) and of the independent Confidential Human Factors Incident Reporting Programme (CHIRP) has led to the development of similar schemes throughout the world.

The maritime industry has realized the importance of near-miss information which can be used in risk management through a pro-active approach. But, going beyond this, near-miss incidents are reported and investigated with similar vigilance and effort as actual accidents, according to the company.

It asserts that, by having a safety culture which encourages near-miss reporting, improvements in risk awareness, revisions in policy, and installation of additional controls has resulted in the prevention of further near-misses and actual accidents.

Near-miss reporting trends are measured for each ship team and the results used to improve continually its safety management system and to help determine proactive safety programs.

Hence having a positive near-miss reporting trend is indicative of an effective safety culture.

Before leaving one's cabin, one must ask oneself a few such questions as: 

Did you switch off the electrical plug, laptop, mobile charger etc?

Did you gear properly as per the PPE requirements?

Are you safe to be in your work area?

Reporting of near misses is critical to a well-organized and effective safety programme. If the contributing factors of near misses continue to exit, sooner or later, the accident will happen in certain circumstances. Near-misses are valuable opportunities affording early detection of possible system weaknesses and provide an early chance for correction before an accident occurs.

The use of near miss in the high risk industries, such as in Aviation and Nuclear Power, has been proved to be successful in safety improvement, without necessarily experiencing actual accidents, as Jones, Kirchsteiger and Bjerke noted. By reviewing literature and experiences from existing programme, we can identify the value of near misses comparing with actual accidents in accident control, as well as the barriers for near-miss reporting. In the end we can also develop a pro-active, systematic approach through which to manage near misses in maritime industry, following the process: identification, data collecting, filtering and classification, cause analyzing, solutions developing, dissemination, follow-up.




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