• Friday, April 19, 2024


The Impact Of Marine Accidents & The Importance Of Shipping Safety

By: Eastern Eye Staff

While the maritime industry is one of the most important areas for global commerce, the operations within it pose a wide number challenges – making shippin g safety and marine safety jobs critical elements in reducing risk. Understanding the impact of maritime accidents due to a lack of shipping safety procedures or due to human error, is an important avenue to understanding the true importance of shipping safety.

In this article, we’ll be talking through the cost of maritime accidents, how human error remains a prevalent cause of accidents in the shipping industry, the consequences of these accidents and how appropriate training and risk management can help to prevent them. Let’s dive in.

The Cost Of Maritime Accidents

Determining the exact cost of maritime accidents can be difficult as there are both direct and indirect costs to consider, as well as external impacts such as environmental damage, legal claims, lost revenue from disrupted trade, and insurance claims.

Some maritime accidents are not only financial but also include intangible costs like the loss of human lives, environmental degradation, and damage to reputation and trust in the maritime industry.

Prevalence Of Human Error In Maritime Accidents

Despite the introduction of numerous technologies to help automate tasks, human error remains one of the most prevalent reasons for maritime accidents, which has the potential to impact the safety of those onboard and cause significant costs and disruptions.

Some examples include the Tunisian Ferry Ulysse colliding with CSL Virginia in October 2018 as a result of an officer on watch being distracted by their mobile phone. In 2017, the Kea Trader was grounded after an officer’s mistake and overconfidence in the vessel’s electronic navigation chart. This resulted in the loss of a 6-month-old ship with 2,194 teu capacity.

Based on findings from the Allianz report on Global Corporate & Specialty, Safety & Shipping spanning from 1912 to 2012, human error is implicated in a significant proportion of marine accidents, ranging from 75% to 96%. Further insights from AGCS, based on the examination of nearly 15,000 marine liability insurance claims between 2011 and 2016, reveal that human error emerged as the predominant factor in 75% of the analysed claims by value. This staggering statistic translates to losses exceeding $1.6 billion within that timeframe.

As we can see, shipping safety and the impact of human error can be incredibly costly.

Environmental Consequences Of Maritime Disasters

The environmental consequences of maritime disasters due to a fall down in safety can be severe and wide-ranging, impacting marine ecosystems, natural resources, and coastal communities.

Some examples of environmental consequences include:

  • Oil spills – causing widespread pollution and harm to marine life, including birds, fish, and marine mammals.
  • Shipwrecks and groundings– causing physical damage to reefs, seafloor habitats and underwater archaeological sites. This can also lead to the release of fuel oil and cargo residues into the waters.
  • Introduction of invasive species– water discharge from ships can bring non-native species to new environments, which can significantly disrupt ecosystems and cause harm to commercial fishing.

Risk Assessment & Management

In order to better mitigate safety concerns in the shipping industry, proper risk assessment and management should be carried out. This will help to better identify any potential hazards within the operation and also better mitigate risks should they occur.

Through the use of safety audits and risk assessments, as well as the introduction of risk management strategies in the event of an emergency or safety breach, can help to better protect the industry.

Further to this, proper crew training and promotion of safety culture can help to reduce human error, alongside new regulations around dealing with fatigue and reliance on technology. Incorporating simulation and virtual technology solutions can help to better coordinate procedures in ‘real life’ environments, ensuring teams are better prepared to handle complex safety situations.


Maritime accidents can be incredibly costly in more ways than just in revenue or expense. Having a properly trained crew and individuals onboard who specialise in promoting safety and putting detailed procedures in place to help mitigate risk is imperative.

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