Adopting a No Blame Policy On board Ships

No shipboard management system is perfected without passing through the ins and outs of failure. Finger pointing or blaming each other for any incident or accident that occurred on board ship or for failures in any undertaking is a common scenario not only in the seafaring world, but also in the corporate world.

For any unsuccessful attempt, no one wants to take the blame. However, in a multi-national setting (on ship) where my husband works, the company has a no blame policy. Any near misses, accident, or incident that occurs are reported and analyzed based on the facts available, and solutions are drawn up to prevent the recurrence of the same.

The Ishikawa Diagram, more commonly known as the “Cause and Effect” Diagram is a vital quality management tool used in the analysis of incidents or accidents that takes place both on board and ashore. The Layman’s call it as the “fishbone diagram”, because it uses the skeleton of a fish to outline the factors that are needed to be identified, contributing to the occurrence to the near misses, incident or accident.

Representation Image – Photograph by Emmanuel Ephraim

From Wikipedia, the following information are noteworthy in understanding it: The Ishikawa diagrams were proposed by Ishikawa in the 1960s, who pioneered quality management processes in the Kawasaki shipyards, and in the process became one of the founding fathers of modern management.

It was first used in the 1940s, and is considered one of the seven basic tools of quality control. Quality Control Practitioners’ uses this tool to investigate the facts and the technical details of the given situation, forming the basis for the action plans to take to avert the recurrence of problems in the work place both for products and processes.

The basic components of Man, Method, Materials, Machine, Management, and Environment where carefully analyzed up to its micro level, to determine which of the inter-related factors contributed to the occurrences. Is it a matter that needed systems improvement, a better quality material, a machine that needs upgrading ,  skills inadequacy  of the people,  or simply a matter of people’s attitude, lack of management support, uncontrollable forces of nature, or working environs aboard the ship?

For someone who used to work as a Sr. Process Engr. in a Billet Steelmaking plant, we lived each day guided by the credo that “Nothing Happens with-out a Cause”. Having sailed with my husband and witnessed some minor accident/incident and near misses on board, it is best that said mantra will find its way into the mindset of the Seafaring professionals both onboard and ashore.

Things simply don’t happen in life with-out a cause! Find the cause first and you will find the solution easily. Blame no one when things don’t meet your expectations. As a professional trademark, it is best to work as a team and deliver your job with the seal of excellence.
Eigh Chuahu Tiu is a loving wife to a Filipino Master Mariner working with AP Moller Maersk-Singapore. A Chemical Engineer by profession, who has worked as a Sr. Process Control Engineer in the Billet Steel Making Plant of National Steel Corporation in Illigan City, Philippines, she has sailed and seen the world through her husband’s eyes.


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