Adapting the Human Factors Analysis and Classification System for Commercial Fishing Vessel Accidents
Authors: Peter Zohorsky, Holly Handley
Abstract: The commercial fishing industry is frequently described as one of the most hazardous occupations in the United States. Their objective, to maximize their catch, is routinely challenged by a variety of elements due to the environment, the vessel, the crew, and a number of external considerations and how they interact with each other. The analysis of fishing vessel accidents can be difficult due to the diverse nature of the industry including the species they catch, the type and size of boat that is employed, how far they must travel from their home port, and the adequacy of their support organizations ensuring safe and uninterrupted operations. Using ten years of data documenting the causes of fatal accidents in the commercial fishing industry, this study developed and evaluated a version of Wiegmann and Shappell’s (2003) Human Factors Analysis and Classification System (HFACS), specifically for commercial fishing industry vessels, HFACS-FV. HFACS has previously been adapted for transportation, industrial, and healthcare applications and was originally designed for naval aviation accidents. HFACS-FV focuses on the particular differences and vulnerabilities within the fishing industry. In contrast to other commercial maritime operations, the fishing industry is challenged by minimal crew and vessel safety standards in a highly competitive field that rewards working in all weather and sea conditions. For this study, the accident investigation information was converted into the HFACS-FV format by independent raters and measured for inter-rater reliability. The results were analyzed for the frequency of the human factors identified by the raters and their relationship with vessel and accident demographic information. The leading categories were found to be physical environment, equipment acquisitions and support, decision error, technical readiness of the crew, and allowing unsafe operations. HFACS-FV provides significant insight on the human factors that contribute to fatal fishing vessel accidents and areas of focus for preventative efforts. Since many fishing vessel organizations are small businesses that employ a fraction of personnel compared to large companies, employees must fulfill numerous job responsibilities with regard to management, supervision, and operation which indicates that the HFACS-FV categories are more relevant than HFACS-FV tiers compared to other HFACS applications. This HFACS modification offers prospective utilization for accidents in the transportation, construction, and industrial sectors involving small companies or organizations.
Keywords: accident analysis, maritime systems, human error analysis
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