Safety in shipping: the human element

J Safety Res. 2006;37(4):401-11. doi: 10.1016/j.jsr.2006.04.007. Epub 2006 Oct 16.


Introduction: There are numerous diverse papers that have addressed issues within maritime safety; to date there has been no comprehensive review of this literature to aggregate the causal factors within accidents in shipping and surmise current knowledge.

Methods: This paper reviewed the literature on safety in three key areas: common themes of accidents, the influence of human error, and interventions to make shipping safer. The review included 20 studies of seafaring across the following areas: fatigue, stress, health, situation awareness, teamwork, decision-making, communication, automation, and safety culture.

Results: The review identifies the relative contributions of individual and organizational factors in shipping accidents, and also presents the methodological issues with previous research.

Conclusions: The paper concludes that monitoring and modifying the human factors issues presented in this paper could contribute to maritime safety performance.

Impact on industry: This review illustrates which human factors issues are prevalent in incidents therefore this gives shipping practitioners a focus for interventions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Accident Prevention*
  • Accidents, Occupational / prevention & control
  • Accidents, Occupational / psychology*
  • Ergonomics*
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • Internationality
  • Naval Medicine*
  • Occupational Health*
  • Oceans and Seas
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Safety*
  • Ships / standards*
  • Ships / statistics & numerical data