Ship Working and Human errorsMaritime workers know that a small accident can cause major disasters, especially when working on open water. While human error is a factor in more than 75% of marine incidents, the errors themselves may have been caused by problems in the work environment, organizational errors, and other factors—meaning one person is blamed for what was actually a systemic failure.

One Human Error, or an Accident Waiting to Happen?

While the immediate cause of an incident may be the result of one person’s actions, accidents are rarely caused by a single person. What may appear to be a simple mistake may actually be the result of failures involving the whole organization—from the onboard crew and equipment to the company headquarters on shore.

“Human error” may be blamed for maritime accidents that have far deeper and more complex causes, including:

  • Training failures. As a worker, you should be trained to the highest level of quality to ensure that no injuries occur and no lives are lost in the many dangerous situations that can arise in maritime work. Employers should have robust training programs, including simulations and hands-on drills, to ensure crews are able to perform tasks involving navigation, electronic chart displays, and information systems.
  • Overworked crew members. Crew members can easily make mistakes if they haven’t been given proper time to rest, work night shifts, or have worked several days without time off. Fatigue can cause disorientation, impaired motor function, and cognitive problems, putting the lives of everyone on board at risk.
  • Hiring negligence. The quality of officers and crew employed by a shipowner is a key factor for marine safety. In particular, lower turnover has been linked to lower accident rates. However, shipowners may not be willing to pay bonuses and salary increases to retain experienced crew members, replacing them in favor of cheaper labor.
  • Failure to learn from past mistakes. Shipowners and employers may be tempted to punish a single person for an accident in order to “sweep it under the rug.” Unfortunately, failure to understand the root cause of an incident and address the contributing factors makes it likely that a similar incident will occur in the future.

If you have been involved in a maritime accident, our Jones Act injury attorneys can perform a full investigation to determine who was at fault. Simply fill out our quick online contact form or call (800) 362-9329 to speak with a lawyer at Hofmann & Schweitzer today, or read through our FREE brochure, Hurt in a Construction Accident? You’re Not Alone.


Paul T. Hofmann
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Focused on personal injury, with an emphasis on maritime, railroad and construction worker tort claims.
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Ladas Law Firm 06/13/2022 06:04 AM
Thanks for sharing the blog. It will help many workers who are in marine they will know if they are any human fault to critisize for marine accident
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