Why do people make mistakes?

By Keith Henderson at August 04, 2010 15:53
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Mistakes cause accidents. That is the inevitable sequence of events and we humans are the people making the mistakes, but why? What are the reasons that people make mistakes? NK’s guidelines covers how to prevent them, it focused mainly on design of equipment and operator training. Why people make mistakes? - some opinions and answers were given during the June 2010 Members Day of the marine insurance organization Swedish Club. Firstly the world crew shortage estimated at 50,000 seafarers isn’t helping the industry. Good relations, communication and training are conducive to people making the right decisions yet having the confidence to challenge questionable decisions. Capt Gustav Groenberg of Star Cruises, Malaysia pointed out the importance of recruiting the right people, offering them good working conditions to motivate and retain them. Peter Groenwoldt, MD of Harren & Partner Ship Management, Bremen’s opinion is that the reason for a mistake is always, without exception, human error caused by: lack of or poor training, ignorance or an over estimation of their skill and experience. Martin Hernqvist, MD of the Swedish Club Academy touched on the sensitive issue of culture on the individual’s ability to challenge mistakes and unsafe acts quoting the Power Distance Index as a measure of different cultures and their behavior.
Mistakes cause accidents. That is the inevitable sequence of events and we humans are the people making the mistakes, but why? What are the reasons that people make mistakes? Following on from my earlier blog on accidents and NK’s guidelines how to prevent them, it focused mainly on design of equipment and operator training. This blog looks into the subject of why people make mistakes? Some opinions and answers were given during the June 2010 Members Day of the marine insurance organization Swedish Club.

Firstly the world crew shortage estimated at 50,000 seafarers isn’t helping the industry. Good relations, communication and training are conducive to people making the right decisions yet having the confidence to challenge questionable decisions. One of the four panelists Rob Grool, MD of Wallem Shipmanagement, Hong Kong said that , “crews must feel that they can always call for help and the only stupid questions is the one you dare not ask!”

Capt Gustav Groenberg of Star Cruises, Malaysia pointed out the importance of recruiting the right people, offering them good working conditions to motivate and retain them. “A high staff turnover is a serious threat to safety,” he said. Commenting on the lower casualties involving cruise ships he said, “many cruise companies have adopted the pilot co-pilot system for their bridge operations and have implemented Standard Operating Procedures that are designed to reduce the risk of a ‘one person error’ accident. These SOPs have been developed to detect and trap an error before it leads to serious consequences. Errors are acceptable but negligence or carelessness is not!”

Peter Groenwoldt, MD of Harren & Partner Ship Management, Bremen is in no doubt as to why people make mistakes. His opinion is that the reason for a mistake is always, without exception, human error caused by one of the three reasons: lack of or poor training, ignorance or an over estimation of their skill and experience. He continued, “we see too many crew members who obviously got their licenses and certificates under the Christmas tree ….. and who pass medical examinations (when) seriously ill (yet are) testified fit for service.

Martin Hernqvist, MD of the Swedish Club Academy touched on the sensitive issue of the influence of culture on the individual’s ability to challenge mistakes and unsafe acts quoting the Power Distance Index as a measure of different cultures and their behavior.
Following a question and answer session the meeting was closed by Lars Rhodin, MD of the Swedish Club.
 
 
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