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Oil Spill Case Study

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2.4 Organizational Factors
Several studies and case reviews have found that organizational factors may be the most critical in considering human factors contributions to oil spills. At the organizational level, various factors may contribute to an increase in incidents and accidents, including cost-cutting programs and the level of communication between work-sites (Gordon, 1998).
Pate-Cornell and Murphy (1996) studied organizational factors across several industries and found that operators are generally predictable and well intentioned, and that often “errors” were caused not by lapsed judgment or operator error, but because of their work environment, incentives system, or information availability. Pate-Cornell and Murphy noted a common lack
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Informal communication channels can be as important as or more important than formal ones for encouraging open and proactive communication of safety concerns. Direct communications between operators can be a powerful source of organizational memory and can contribute significantly to accident prevention, especially in regards to maintenance practices. In the marine oil transportation industry, this kind of organizational knowledge is best realized onboard vessels where crew members are retained long-term. With new crewmembers or trainees, it is extremely important that their work be subject to diligent oversight and inspection, as close supervision can have the dual benefits of educating employees while minimizing risks. (Pate-Cornell and Murphy, 1996).
2.5 Individual Human Factors
Although most researchers recognize the importance of the organizational safety culture, the role of the individual operator is critical. The competence, perceptual judgments, stress, motivation, and health risks (such as work over-load) of an individual operator are critical to the chain of events that may cause an accident or oil spill (Gordon, 1998). Two of the most recognized and studied individual factors as related to the maritime industry are described here: inadequate knowledge and fatigue.
2.5.1 Inadequate
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2.5.2 Fatigue
In a recent human factors study, the US Office of Marine Safety, Security and Environmental Protection and the Office of Navigation Safety and Waterway Services found that fatigue was among the top three causes of marine accidents (Gordon, 1998). Rothblum cites studies by the Marine Transportation Research Board in 1976 and the NRC in1990 where fatigue was the primary concern of mariners in both cases (Rothblum, 2006).
In an Australian report that analyzes reporting methodologies and the relationship between sleep, fatigue, and accidents in Incident at Sea Reports, Phillips (2000) found that 86% of the reports analyzed made some reference to sleep, although many of these references described sleep loss as a way of life onboard ships rather than as a direct causal factor. Thirty-nine per cent of the reports considered sleeping or sleepiness as a contributing causal
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