The yacht industry could demonstrate real maritime leadership by making significant steps towards a ‘safety culture’ - Engel-Jan de Boer, LR's Yacht Segment Manager
The superyacht industry already has a reputation for being a very safe industry but the reactive regulatory culture flow of accidents; leading to regulations; leading to regulatory overkill and perception of being safe, could lead the industry to drift into failure.
The onus is not just on the classification societies to boost the standard of safety within the superyacht industry. Yes, classification societies together with the Flag and Port States carry out independent verification of quality and safety but the onus should lie with the builders, the manufacturers and suppliers, the management companies and of course the Captains and their crew.
Contrary to common belief, it is not compliance with rules, regulations and procedures which makes a yacht safer, it is in fact unfortunate that regulations have to be brought into existence and are continuously on the rise in order to provide safety for the guests, crew and the environment as well as to protect the large investment a yacht is. Yes rules and regulations are a must, but they are not sacrosanct and are definitely not the solution as accidents still happen regardless of these regulations.
Safety is in fact created by physical acts and, if only to put a halt to the ever increasing amount of technical regulations, we must focus far more on how to support the crew and management companies in making the right decisions at the right time.
Lack of experienced crew, fatigue, complacency, poor design, poor maintenance, poor training, poor attitudes, poor safety culture, unsafe access, communication difficulties, ship-shore conflicts, navigation accidents are only a few of the reported problems involving people in yachting and the list seems to be growing all the time. It is a diverse list, so it is easy to assume that the issues are unrelated. However, if one considers how the human element is integrated in all of them it suggests otherwise. To emphasise this, according to the US Coast Guard, poor human factors in the design of ships and shipboard equipment, and inadequate access for maintenance are among top 10 causes of ship accidents.
You can read the full version of this article in the March 2015 edition of The Superyacht Report.