Sunday, May 12, 2013

“Accidents Onboard: What Might Be The Reasons Accidents Happen?”

Palomar, Jun Vieril 
Jardeleza, Jerson 
Malan, Nelson 
Basa, Devy

Bachelor of Science in Marine Engineering

Now in our country, we have been suffering so many crises that have never been resolved. One of the most difficult and anyone can’t avoid even the people that have stable job is financial crises. Financial problem is the main problem of most of people here in the Philippines. Especially those people who are living in smaller islands and far from early civilization.

 In these islands there are so many new high school graduates who have different dreams for their family and for their future life. But all of those dreams never come true because of financial problem. There is some who stopped dreaming and contented on what they have but, there is also some who pursue and continue to reach their goals in their own life. So, in order to reach their goals, they made an agreement between them as brothers and sisters, an agreement that they will help each other. The elder sister will have to work in order to send her brother to college. The brother decided to take a maritime course because nowadays seafaring is one of the powerful sources of economy in the world. As a matter of fact, Filipino seafarers are very in demand in seafaring because of their good performances in any types of merchant vessels. So, if he will succeed, he is not only helping his family to lift up from poverty but also he help lessens financial crisis in our country.
 Although, seafarers are earning a lot of money, they are also in high risk to maritime accidents like fire, collision of ships, grounding, and the most risky one, the abandon ship accident. Many seafarers hesitate to go onboard a particular ship because of those accidents. Working onboard can assure everyone on becoming successful, so, there is some who continue and take the risk of all accidents that will happen on ships. Accidents sometimes happen anytime to all of us and sometimes we can avoid it but almost us we cannot.
Being a seafarer is like playing a risky game. Before you win, you will be exposed into dangers. It is just normal. For them, working onboard guarantees them to triumphant, but most of them are worrying on their safety due to different accidents happening aboard ship. What might be the reasons why these often happen onboard? Why there are accidents onboard while some says that seafaring is a safe work? These questions were often heard from many. So as future seafarers, we are one of the others who are trying to search for the answers of these questions.

Accidents are already a part of life of any person as well as seafarers. Many ships had been destroyed because of these devastating accidents. According to Siglos, the major contributor of accidents, which claimed many lives and great financial lost to the owners, is the human error. It is almost 80% of all accidents that happened on seas. It includes negligence, lack of training, and fatigue on some crews that manned a particular ship. Negligence and lack training contributes fewer compared to the most surprising one that is fatigue on crews. Fatigue has the most contribution on accidents caused by human errors because of lack of sleep and rest periods. When they are fatigue, they can’t do other task those in times of emergency, they can’t move alertly to different situations because of tired body.

In the report of other researchers, human factor is the cause of 80% maritime accidents. This human factor includes active human factor and latent human factor. The most horrible thing that was reported is that 80% of the 80% human factor is caused by latent human factor. Latent human factor is ships shore-based management that gives orders for the ship but the results of their own actions are not urgent and it takes some time it would be gathered up. But why this is one of the main cause? This is because of fault to orders coming from them and an error to the transfer of commands from higher ranking officers to rating personnel. The remaining 20% of the 80%human factor that causes accidents is the active human factor. This is the working crew members responsible for maintaining the safe voyage of the ship.

On other hand, according to different articles in the internet and books, we discovered the reasons why accident happen onboard are human behavior, machinery or equipment problems, weather condition, personnel’s status, ship management and unnoticed liquid spillage.

The different articles articulate that human behavior or attitude while on cruise contribute to dangers on voyage of ship. The behavior of many ship crew mainly the cause of accidents like fire, explosion, collision and many other accidents while on voyage. Even the careless throwing of lighted matches or cigarette filters of the crew can be a cause of fire or explosion especially to chemical tankers and cargo ships. Since the substances transported by these merchant ships are flammable chemicals, a minor explosion have bigger chances to major explosion and might result to abandonment of ship. Alcohol and drug abuses of workers are also a major problem in seafaring industry. If the worker got engaged to alcohol and prohibited drug abuse, he became addicted and could cause him to behave involuntarily. A person that is high on drugs cannot control his own actions. It can lead to serious accidents onboard. Negligence while on duty, lack of good housekeeping and ignorance of smaller problems are also main contributors of accidents onboard. Ignoring even a small leak or spillage on floors and tanks can result to serious injury on your own and among fellow crew members. According to our teacher, he also said that human error is the reason of accidents while onboard. In his examples, he explains that negligence of the crew on radar devices while on duty in the ship’s bridge results to collision.

Another reason of accident onboard is caused by machinery or equipment problems. Sometimes there are accidents in which the cause is loosening spare parts of different equipments. It can result to malfunctions and can harm crew members who operate certain equipment. Crane operations onboard are often used because of heavy cargoes carried by the ship. Crane mishaps are very risky when it comes to transfer of cargoes that can harm workers. The strains on ropes and wires on cranes and mooring devices on the ship is not a small problem because when neglected, the outcome is injury. Jamming doors and splintered edges of woodwork can cause cuts and bruises. Minor structure deficiencies, this minor things doesn’t given much attention for it is just smaller problems, but soon this grows into huge one and become their major problem.

Weather conditions are also a problem to seafaring. The sinking of M/V princess of the Stars in 2008 was caused by bad weather condition. The false detailed movement of the storm was the reason of its sinking. While maneuvering on foggy waters, the suggestions of many seafarers are to take a full watch to radar devices in order to prevent collision with other vessels.

As we searched, personnel’s status also got a big contribution to some accidents. There are personnel that even in the old age; they are still working as ratings in different ships. In that age, they still do harder tasks and heavy works on their duties that in cases of emergencies, they tardily move and cannot take immediate actions. The different nationality of crew is also a cause of some accidents. Different races of the workers made them harder to communicate with each other especially in risky operations.

As we mentioned earlier, the ship management is one big reason of maritime accidents. The changes in ships of the shipping companies are another reason of accidents because of unfamiliarity of crew to the location of ships devices and controls. The first time of the crew to get onboard a particular ship is another reason in which he should first familiarize all the locations of equipments and devices.

Accidents are also caused by liquid spillage, fuel leakages on tanks, spilled combustible liquid on floors and also the overflowing bilge water. Fuel and combustible liquid leakages can cause fire in the ship. Fuel can easily catch heat and it may ignite and cause fire. Overflowing of bilge water is another reason why many engine workers got injured due to slips and neglected wet surfaces on engine floors.

Even though there is a big money to seafaring, still it is coupled with accidents when not cautious in actions.  To realize the dream of making shipping safer at times, we must bear in mind our own safety. The crew members shall have their own knowledge, skills, and training required to their task, and is a safety conscious person at all times.
As future seafarers, we are trying to locate answers for the problems in seafaring. We are preparing ourselves for the next journey of our life, that to become an engine officer. If you want to become one of us, be prepared on yourself. Try to know what lies beyond your future. Search, Read, And Understand. 


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