Book Review - BIMCO Bulletin

Central to change

BOOK REVIEW | onlY HUMan November 2017 Were only human By Michael Grey, BIMCOs correspondent in London B eing Human in Safety-Critical Organisations is an important addition to safety literature, written by two authors whose career has largely been based on understanding what makes people behave the way they do. Dik Gregory and Paul Shanahan wrote the best-selling book, The Human Element A Guide to Human Behaviour in the Shipping Industry, which was a major groundbreaking volume devoted to the maritime world. Being Human explains, as it suggests in its sub-title, how people create safety, what stops them and what to do about it and provides practical guidance for all safety-critical industries. Commissioned, like its predecessor, by the UK Maritime & Coastguard Agency, BP, Teekay and the Standard P&I Club, the book draws examples from different industries and incidents all around the world to reinforce its powerful arguments. The book provides guidance to individuals, teams and companies on human behaviour Michael Grey The book looks closely at our fitness for work, the effects of fatigue and stress and the dangers of boredom and complacency Michael Grey is BIMCOs correspondent in London. He is a former editor of Lloyds List and a regular contributor to many maritime publications. It explains there is more to ship safety than firing off volumes of procedures and why it is important to understand the character of accidents, if we are to avoid making them We are all individuals, although many of us will work in teams and subscribe to an ethos and a corporate culture driven by our employers. This book endeavours to help us understand human behaviour within these contexts, while providing guidance to individuals, teams and companies alike. There is something here for all. It is highly practical, written in a language that is jargon-free and compelling, while offering an enormous amount of thoughtprovoking advice. It explains there is more to ship safety than firing off volumes of procedures and why it is important to understand the character of accidents, if we are to avoid making them. Understanding how and why complex systems go badly wrong is known as resilience engineering and building resilience through a better understanding of the role of humans is an important function of this book. Some of the most gripping examples of human error and, by contrast, the human capacity to intervene positively, come from the world of aviation, which perhaps illustrates the uncertainty of operations and the capacity for surprise. But there are plenty of marine examples, where human behaviour, such as faulty perception and wrong assumptions have combined disastrously. The Royal Majesty grounding, following the disconnection of the ships navigational GPS, provides a whole range of different lessons, as does the analysis of the Herald of Free Enterprise ferry disaster. The reader learns about the risk that context can produce blindness and the authors suggestion that complacency is rather more than we might think. Being human is about our frailty and the book looks closely at our fitness for work, the effects of fatigue and stress and the dangers of boredom and complacency. The authors provide evidence on how our senses can deceive us, and how we can come to wholly wrong conclusions without being aware of this. We learn of cognitive biases and the reasons we sometimes do risky things. Hindsight, too, can deceive us, with the awful story of the Charles de Gaulle Concorde disaster. The authors discuss the value of motivation, impulses, habits, self-awareness and the road to real expertise. Teamwork, the contribution of our social nature, diversity and the need to encourage leadership in the improvement of safety are the subject of an important section. How do organisations, despite their best motives, end up with the opposite of what they want? The authors discuss complexity, our fixation with efficiency over thoroughness, and the need for a just culture. A substantial section of the book explores the concept of resilience; how this can, in safety terms, be increased by both the individual and the organisation. Practical strategies for organisational resilience are suggested. Individuals and organisations have much to learn from this valuable addition to the human element library. Where to buy the book Being Human in Safety-Critical Organisations, by Dik Gregory and Paul Shanahan, ISBN 978 0 115535 35 2 is available from www.tsoshop.co.uk price 35.00 Connect with BIMCO Facebook Twitter Linkedin YouTube