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Designated Person Ashore: Ensuring Safety and Coordination Problem Solution Essay

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Updated: Apr 1st, 2022


Before the advent of the designated person ashore (DPA), the mortality rate of victims, who were seriously injured in accidents, was significantly high due to the lack of trained and efficient personnel to perform certain critical advanced technical and managerial tasks that facilitated the smooth running of operations within vessels like ships and boats (Donavan).

The International Maritime Organization states that the role played by highly trained DPAs in marine operations has led to an increase in efficiency and accountability in this industry (78).

DPAs have significantly contributed in the reduction of accidents and other errors brought about by human factors. These statistics highlight the vital role played by the DPAs and their significant role in human factor management in the marine industry. In the early days, all marine operations were handled by the pilot, captains and other crew members.

However, there were constant problems relating to poor communication between the vessels and the onshore operators due to inadequate coordination efforts as well as inabilities to. The UK delegation to IMO introduced the DPA concept with an aim of understanding the causes of the Herald of Free Enterprise disaster in 1987.

Moens describes a DPA as a person who has direct access to the top management and is tasked with the duties of ensuring that all safety codes are followed (159). In addition, they provide a link between the ship and the shipping company. The DPA is expected to look into all aspects of the ship and ensure smooth running of all operations. However, the human factor in the shipping companies plays a pivotal role which in essence, determines the success or failure of all shipping operations.

There is need to come up with the ways and means of alleviating the problem and thereby leading to better physical well being of the crew which will result in optimal performance in the field.

Fatigue among the bridge crew members is among the leading factor that has led to the interruption of efficient practices in most shipping companies. As the DPA, it is my duty to analyze this issue from all angles and come up with viable solutions that can be employed to mitigate the effects of fatigue thereby ensuring that safety and effective coordination is preserved.

Problem Statement

In the last half a century, efforts made by the shipping companies have been directed towards the improvement of ship structure as well as the reliability of their systems.

Fayle claims that the main aim of these improvements has been to reduce the ever increasing casualties in the shipping industry all the while increasing efficiency as well as productivity (17). Maritime environment undergoes a considerable number of human factors problems like fatigue among bridge team members, constant marine pollution, or inabilities to provide safe navigation in time and indentify true causes of causalities which happen with seamen.

The number of accidents and casualties in the shipping industry is still very high (Weintrit 21). The question that is left wanting is all about the reasons of why all those risks and accidents could not be reduced or, at least, prevented, even after all considerable improvements are made.

It is because the ship structure and its reliability are just a small proportion of the general equation as regarding to safety. The efficiency of these systems depends mainly on human labor and manmade errors that contribute highly in most of the casualties situations. To ensure that such occurrences are reduced, it is a worthwhile endeavor to focus on the human factor that leads to most of these casualties and accidents.

Description Factors Which Influence Marine Environment

There are four main factors which may influence maritime environment, and the successful identification of these factors may considerably improve the conditions under which seamen have to work and the consequences of such work.

These factors are observed from several perspective of maritime work: the factor of fatigue among bridge team members that is based on human health conditions and working abilities; the factor of marine environment and human direct participation; the factor of safe navigation and people’s inabilities to organize it properly; and finally, failures to identify the reasons of causalities in the sea.

Marine pollution is characterized by a number of harmful effects which influence human work. A number of toxic elements as well as extreme noise and waste are considered to be crucial for seamen and serve as the main reason of fatigue born in people (Ellis 4).

Fatigue can be described as a state whereby a person experiences a diminished capacity to perform either physiologically and/or psychologically (Florence 35). There are many symptoms of fatigues which may be observed in seamen, and each point should be considered because “contact with water and humidity is the main parameter which governs the environmental behavior of the material and this can affect the fatigue and long term performance” (Harris 711).

If a shipping company wants to improve the conditions of marine work, it is obligatory to pay more attention to the workers who cannot perform multitasks in time and in a good way, who demonstrate poor judgments or suffer from memory loss.

In spite of the fact that statistics proves the contribution of fatigue in maritime accidents are overwhelming (Weintrit 47), many shipping companies still cannot define the reasons and basics of causalities which happen at sea. They fail to present safe navigation and provide employees with satisfied conditions.

This is why the definition of fatigue and the reasons of why is crucial for shipping companies because a better understanding of all these aspects may help them come up with viable measures that would in essence minimize or mitigate fatigue related incidences within the industry.

Human Physiology and Anthropometry

Human physiology as described by Abernethy refers to the biological science related to the “mechanical, physical, and biochemical functions of humans in good health and their organs (27).” The various factors that may enhance efficient performance are addressed in this field of study as well as those that may affect the same. Anthropometry refers to the field of study that focuses on the measurements of the human body for anthropological and comparison use.

The human factors which influence cooperation at sea and seafarers’ productivity have been mentioned above. They are marine fatigue and a number of factors which influence the development of this fatigue: marine pollution, lack of safe navigation, and inabilities to predict and define risk causalities. Considering human physiology, it is obligatory to think about a design with the help of which reduction of seafarers’ fatigue is possible and promotion of appropriate conditions like rest, adaptable ships, and marine environment is supported.

To succeed in the chosen activity, a shipping company has to set a number of goals and make sure they are achieved. First, it is possible to develop good and safe courses where marine pollution will not be a problem for seamen to deal with. In case the reduction of pollution is possible, the rates of seafarers’ fatigue may be reduced as well.

Another important step in the development of a plan is connected with the conditions under which seamen have to work: shipping companies should take care of appropriate rooms for rest and consider healthy eating. It is not that expensive to find people who are responsible for doing up a ship and food preparing.

Finally, a design of a program that may reduce fatigue rates should be supplemented with proper medical care. Professionals on the board should follow healthy conditions of seafarers and prevent the development of disease as soon as it is possible.

Information Processing and Cognition

Communication is arguably the corner stone on which successful relationships are built. The importance of effective communication is universally acknowledged and as Greene and Burleson demonstrate, a lot of research has been taken on the subject and numerous books written so as to help people improve their skills so as to make them more effective in their communication efforts (8). There exist different communication styles and the one that an individual adopts may be as a result of personality, socialization or training.

Some symptoms of fatigue include short-term memory loss, fixation, anxiety and poor concentration (Harris 10). When crew members start suffering from fatigue, they face difficulties with understanding commands and orders.

In addition, the likelihood of information distortion is very high due to the memory loss. Lancaster asserts that if a person is fatigued, it becomes very difficult for them to perform accordingly (77). This he claims is due to the fact that human’s cognitive skills and information processing abilities depend on their level of physical and psychological well being. If these aspects are in poor conditions, then the occurrence of mishaps is inevitable.

Occupational Stressors

People face a number of various physical and emotional challenges. This is why it is very important to define the reason of stress and be able to overcome the challenges appeared. In case the identification of stress is failed, a threat to the mental and physical well being is possible.

The long-term exposure to stress is disruptive to most of the body’s process. As such many health problems including: high blood pressure, heart attacks, digestive problems and obesity are seen to have stress as their root cause. Gibson claims that the shipping industry is among the most stressful sectors in the world (15).

Occupational stressors in this industry include overworking, lack of personal time and disconnection of family ties due to the fact that crew members spend long periods of time at sea. Bust, further asserts that stress and fatigue are interconnected (64). Therefore, if the crew members are stressed, they show most of the fatigue symptoms. This invariably affects their ability to concentrate and perform effectively.

Change, Leadership and Culture

All crew members are bound by a number of certain rules and regulations that govern how seafarers should go about their duties. They are always expected to show a high level of professionalism and etiquette while doing their jobs so that they provide quality services. Majority of the population is greatly dissatisfied with the current maritime systems provided (Dallmeyer 198).

While an effective system is one those which is efficient, acceptable, and, at the same time, equitable, the current system has been observed to be lacking in these attributes (International Maritime Organization 75). As such, leaders in the shipping industry are under much pressure to enforce positive change in the various modes of operations. To do this, they have to push the crew members beyond their limits and this consequently leads to fatigue among the members.

One of the most evident examples to be used may be observed in the movie about the Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean. It did not matter what kind of crew he could have, he was able to attract the attention, demonstrate his best qualities as a leader, and, what is more important, take care of himself. Such challenges as fatigue or unsafe navigation should not influence sailors’ work, and Sparrow is ready to help his team to cope any kind of fatigue.

Human Errors

Ehlers and Lagoni assert that human errors contribute to an average of 75-96% of all maritime casualties (39). In a recent study conducted by the U.S. coast guard, it was documented that there are many areas within the shipping industry where safety and performance could be improved through the application of some human factor principles.

During the study, the most prevalent problems were fatigue which contributed to 16% of the casualties experienced within the vessels and 33% of total injuries. The other problems attributed to human errors included but were not limited to lack of proper communication and coordination between the pilot and the bridge crew, inadequate technical skills among the crew, poor decision making and poor maintenance practices among others. However, these human errors have their basis on fatigue as the leading cause.

In the design offered in this paper that considers a number of factors inherent to maritime environment, it is possible to observe several errors caused by human not readiness to evaluate a number of factors at the same as well as be involved into the project to its full extent. As it has been mentioned before, one of the significant steps to be taken is connected with appropriate safe navigation and conditions under which fatigue cannot be developed in seafarers.

One of the possible human errors in this plan is connected to inabilities evaluate the current conditions on the chosen course in time. Even the professional developers may face challenges with unrespectable conditions of the sea. This is why a design should also consider some unforeseen circumstances and provide people with an additional plan to overcome healthy problems which influence productivity.

Risks Assessment and Management

Risk is often referred to as the presence of potential or actual threats or opportunities that influence the objectives of a project. Risk as explained by The Institute of Risk Management is a combination of measures that are put in place to prevent hazards and contain risks (2).

As such, risk is often referred to as the presence of potential or actual threats or opportunities that influence the objectives of a project. All projects have their potential consequences that can be regarded as benefits or threats to success. Risk Management is normally ignored since most project managers deem it as unnecessary paperwork. This notion leads to firefighting approaches to dealing with problems that appear in the life of the project.

Project risk. All maritime projects involve some measure of risk. Risks arise as a result of the uncertainties that are inherent in each project. One of the things which make risk management hard in biotechnological projects is that there is no standardized approach to dealing with risks and there is no definite method that can be used to predict the occurrences of risks (Norris, Perry & Simon 2).

This is because no two projects are alike and as such, each project had its own unique environment and variables which leads to differing risks (Quezada 196). In maritime environments, the various risks and hazards can be categorized as biomechanical, psychosocial or psychological, behavioral and microbiological.

Biomechanical hazards are mostly related to the posture and the movement of the body during working periods. Examples of these hazards in the shipping industry include but are not limited to: repetitive lifting and body stressing.

Psychological hazards mostly refer to the job stressors experienced by the crew. Behavioral hazards refer to emotional factors such as aggression and violent behaviors. Finally, microbiological and biological hazards refer elements such as bacteria, viruses and other disease causing microorganisms which may exist in the working environment.

Risk analysis and management. Risk analysis and management involves the recognition that risks exist. It entails a thorough assessment of the project to identify what could go wrong (Das 14). The concept of risk management involves conducting a detailed assessment of a particular project so as to identify significant things that could go wrong with the project.

Fatigue therefore impairs the ability of the responsible parties to analyze risks conclusively. Norris, Perry and Simon assert that project risk analysis and management if properly undertaken increases the likelihood of successful completion of a project on time, without mishaps and within stipulated cost (1).

Human factor interventions that may solve fatigue related issues in shipping industries

Through the discussion, it has been revealed that fatigue is not a force to reckon with when it comes to the establishment and preservation of safety and efficient performance in the shipping industry. As such, there are measures that should be employed to curb this issue.

Details of the Design That Helps to Prevent Seafarers’ Fatigue

Hankin asserts that good leadership is about respecting and acknowledging differences among people in relation to their age, sex, ethnicity, abilities and beliefs (29). The success of any business depends on the level of commitment, loyalty and productivity of the workforce. Each organization should ensure that the employees are always at their best on psychological, mental and physical level.

To further encourage flexibility in organizations, employers must develop a work life balance policy or other relevant programs that support comfortable work places and hours. It is necessary ensure that seafarers have an access to various services on board and are able to get necessary help in time. The employers must try to provide appropriate support services that facilitate optimum work life balance (Shields 97), because this kind of balance is a considerable factor that may influence human fatigue.

In general, a good design that may be implemented to reduce the rates of seamen’s fatigue should consist of the following ideas:

  • An appropriate space where seamen are able to take a rest and get necessary energy to continue working;
  • An access to new technologies which may considerably facilitate seafarers’ work (electronic navigations, radio telephones, etc);
  • Abilities to feed properly (healthy food that promotes a number of useful ingredients which promote work of brain or some other parts of a human body);
  • Possibilities to get appropriate medical services in case of emergency or just for some prevention measures;
  • Presence of professionals who are able to develop good and in time communication with the seamen.


Maritime environment is determined by a number of factors, and human factors problems are considered to be the most significant. To promote an effective work of seafarers, any shipping company has to identify the threats and challenges which are possible to observe in the chosen environment.

In case that is described in this paper, much attention is paid to fatigue that is spread among bridge team members. This kind of fatigue may be caused by many reasons like marine pollution, unsafe navigations, and inabilities to provide seamen with appropriate and safe conditions for work.

To succeed in developing a good plan in accordance with which marine workers will be satisfied with the results, conditions, and possibilities, it is obligatory to analyze the obstacles and consider the demands of seamen. Attention to what may prevent good work is integral in this activity, and a shipping company should understand that such a slight challenge as human fatigue may put under a question the work of the whole vessel.

Works Cited

Abernethy, Bruce. The biophysical foundations of human movement. USA: Human Kinetics, 2005. Print.

Bust, Philip. Contemporary ergonomics 2008. USA: Taylor & Francis, 2008. Print.

Dallmeyer, Dorinda. Values at sea: ethics for the marine environment. USA: University of Georgia Press, 2003. Print.

Das, Satyajit. Risk management. NJ: John Wiley and Sons, 2006. Print.

Donavan, John. Shell Has Had More Trouble Curbing Fatalities Than Many of Its Competitors. Royal Dutch Shell PLC. 11 Jan. 2009. 23 Oct. 2010. <>

Ehlers, Peter and Lagoni, Rainer. International maritime organisations and their contribution towards a sustainable marine development. USA: LIT Verlag Münster, 2006. Print.

Ellis, Neil. Fatigue: What’s Known and What’s Being Done. The Sea, London: Mission to Seafarers 172 (Nov./Dec. 2004): 4-5.

Fayle, Ernest. A Short History of the World’s Shipping Industry. USA: Taylor & Francis, 2006. Print.

Florence, Philip. Economics of Fatigue and Unrest: And the Efficiency of Labor in English and American Industry. CA: Routledge, 2003. Print.

Gibson, Philip. Cruise operations management. USA: Butterworth-Heinemann, 2006. Print.

Greene, Oliver et al. Handbook of communication and social interaction skills. NY: Routledge, 2003. Print.

Hankin, Henry. The new workforce: Five sweeping trends that will shape your company’s future. AMACOM Div American Mgmt Assn, 2005. Print.

Harris, Bryan. Fatigue in Composites. Boca Raton, FL: Woodhead Publishing Ltd. Print.

International Maritime Organization. Guidelines on fatigue. USA: IMO Publishing, 2002. Print.

International Maritime Organization. Resolutions and other decisions (resolutions 874-901): Assembly, Twenty First Session, 15-26 November 1999. USA: IMO Publishing, 2000. Print.

Lancaster, John. Engineering catastrophes: causes and effects of major accidents. USA: Woodhead Publishing, 2000. Print.

Moens, Gabriel. International Trade and Business Law Annual. NY: Routledge, 2001. Print.

Norris, Catriona et al. Project Risk Analysis and Management. Buckinghamshire: The Association for Project Management, 2000. Print.

Quezada, Fernando. “Commercial biotechnology in Latin America: Current opportunities and challenges.” Journal of Commercial Biotechnology 12 (2006): 192-199. Print.

Shields, John. Managing employee performance and reward: concepts, practices, strategies. USA: Cambridge University Press, 2007. Print.

The Institute of Risk Management. A Risk Management Standard. London: AIRMIC, 2002. Print

Weintrit, Adam. Marine Navigation and Safety of Sea Transportation. USA: Taylor & Francis, 2009. Print.

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