For decades, SOLAS regulations have mandated On-Load, Release, Retrieval Systems (OLRRS) for lifeboats, whose complicated and non-transparent name conveys the functionality of these complicated and non-transparent contraptions, which habitually kill innocent seamen. Back in the ’80s, some desk bound marine safety officials cooked up a requirement that lifeboat davit wire hooks had to be able to release a boat full of people when the weight of the boat was still on the davit wires. While it is possible to imagine a rare circumstance when such a capability may be useful, the large number of seamen who have died while testing these clunky and hard to use devices proves that they are useless.
If anyone knows of a case where OLRRS devices have saved lives, please let us know. SOLAS and IMO admit there is a problem insofar as their faceless committees keep issuing “updated circulars”, such as Marine Safety Committee-1’s 2011 update number 1392, which itself is like the deadly devices themselves, clunky and hard to understand.
Dysfunctional lifeboat OLRRS devices are not the only example, but Fast Rescue Craft (FRC), mandated on certain classes of passenger vessels since the Estonia ferry disaster in 1994 is another. An IMO committee thinks that a fragile FRC could be of use in picking up man overboard victims, when in fact, rough seas recovery via davit of small craft, is a death trap for unwitting users. Worse, FRC rules mandate davit launching capability under conditions of no ship’s power, which has introduced some of the most complicated and nontransparent hydraulic systems known to man. Systems which are far outside the ability of ordinary crewmen to understand or fix in the case of malfunction.
Our offshore and maritime industries need a Sensible Safety User Committee to critically review well meaning safety rules which cause more harm than good.
Safety rules need to consider the mechanics of human accidents.
Physical factors (e.g. defective or badly designed equipment) combined with human shortcomings (e.g. too-high workload, boredom or fatigue) cause injuries. Both need to be understood within the context of probable risk. Too many safety rules are created with insufficient regard to the context in which humans perform work.
For example, in the case of those compulsory FRBs, more than once during Class Surveys, I have seen crewmen brush death in FRB recovery operations being made by vessels tied up to the wharf on sunny days in sheltered harbors. Therefore any future Sensible Safety User Committee should personally invite those individual members of the SOLAS IMO, who endorse compulsory Fast Rescue Boats on large passenger vessels, to come on board and personally show us how to launch and recover an FRB from the deck of an Estonia-like Baltic Sea ferry at night in a winter storm.
There is the larger topic of HMI – Human Machine Interface, (ergonomics) much of which is also swept under the carpet. Imagine if cars had no standardized controls, e.g. the clutch, brake and accelerator pedal were randomly located, according to the whim of the manufacturer. That is the case with today’s cranes and man-lifts. HMI defects plague modern systems because the regulators and designers have never had to use them. Bad HMI design is a topic which needs its own series of articles.
Reposted from http://marine-projects.net/?p=154#more-154