Risk Taking in Shipping

Associations, Corporate Social Responsibility, Health and Safety, IT and Communications, Jobs, Manning - Seafarers and Offshore, Marine Equipment Products and Services, Reports, Safety and Security, Technical, Technology — By on September 15, 2015 at 1:16 PM

Human Behavior in the Shipping Industry – shutterstock_229135150 klRisk-Taking

The guide helps to identify countermeasures to avoid human errors and bad decisions. Discover how to manage the human element on all levels – from engine room, to bridge, to shore.

In this part from our summary of “The Human Element – A Guide to Human Behavior in the Shipping Industry”, we examine the “Risk Taking and Making Decision” chapter and break down the most relevant information.

Human Behavior in the Shipping Industry – Risk-Taking in the Shipping Industry

In the last part, we learned that people have to make sense of things (information) in order to make decisions or plans. This sense making is heavily influenced by a number of factors, such as culture, past experience, ability to communicate, empathy and one’s character.

Even we make a decision we can never be certain that we have made the right one and that we have interpreted all relevant data in the way that is favorable for a positive outcome. This is partly because we want our plan to work or our decision to be right, hence, we are tricked by our brain into selectively finding assumptions and interpretations that are good from our personal point of view.

This all involves risks and we need to accept risks, but sometimes we know that we do not have sufficient information or we feel a false sense of safety and still head for our conclusion / plan / decision.

Tug_Containerschiff klWhat Affects Risk Taking in the Shipping Industry and in Humans?

Risks, are determined by our feeling about a given situation, which of course can be easily wrong. The feeling might be influenced by an incorrect perception of control. This imagination of having control might be influenced by thinking positively about our skills, experience, technical equipment, hard training and a familiarity with the situation. People forget that missing knowledge and over-estimation can then lead to bad decisions.

“The Human Element – A Guide to Human Behavior in Shipping Industry” gives an example of a deckhand who was washed overboard – he only secured himself in heavy weather by wrapping an arm around the pulpit rail instead of using the harness. Therefore he took a risk, and based on his perception his decision was good enough, but it was clearly proven otherwise. This situation involved perceived familiarity, it was not the first time the deckhand had secured himself like this; therefore the situation seemed to be familiar and hence controllable.

Another point of influence is perceived value – when something supports a higher goal and could bring one a big step closer to achieving it, so the more we desire it, the less risky it appears.

How decisions by humans in shipping are made

To make a decision based on the information we have we need to work through all the options, thinking about alternatives and interpreting all facts. Therefore, decision-making is a very time-consuming task and we need to decide how efficient or thorough to be, as time is a valuable and rare commodity in shipping.

That presents a problem because it means there is likely to be a tradeoff between safety (by thorough investigation) and profitability (by deciding quickly). In reality, companies need to be both at the same time. The company’s culture dictates which of the qualities is more favored. Pressure from the company’s demand for efficiency leads to a shift in perception where thoroughness is valued less and seamen feel the need to work as efficiently and as quickly as they can. It is difficult to consciously act against this urge and people need adequate training in order to make proper decisions that determine when it is better to be more thorough.

About the Author

CODie software is Germany’s second biggest suppliers of ship management software. The scope of products covers software for planned maintenance, dry-docking, safety (ISM/ISPS) and crew management, amongst others.


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