Looking at Causes Fault in Marine Incidents


If you look too deeply into finding cause and fault in accidents it’s easy to get bogged down. There’sroot cause, the 5 why, the bow tie, tripod beta the fault tree etc.

Cause is a tricky word,. The NTSB uses the term “cause” because they are required by law to find the “cause” of accidents. The word factors implies possible multiple causes of various weights. We might ask what causes weather (uneven heating) but it makes more sense to ask what are the factors that effect say, temperture.

The terms fault and blame imply a moral failing, the word error is more neutral. But all errors are not equal. How much responsibility someone has for an error depends on how much of a factor it had in incidnent, how much authority that person or group had and the difference between what was expected and what was done.

Then there is judgement. What punishment does a wrong doer deserve? We all might have intuitions about whether a sentence or punishment is fair or just, how grounded in facts those intutions are based is another queston.