Alert! 10 - For the guidance of wise men and the blind obedience of fools


Regulation is required to ensure safer and secure shipping and cleaner oceans; and for the setting of common standards for ship and system design and build, for the education and training of the various stakeholders, and for operational procedures.

The seafarer also needs to be protected through regulation that can provide him/her with a safe and secure working environment, decent working and living conditions, fair terms of employment and a healthy lifestyle. Human nature is such that we all, at times break the rules.

This may be unintentional through slips, lapses or mistakes; or maybe because we simply do not know that the rule exists or do not understand it. Or it may be intentional because commercial or operational pressures are forcing us to ‘cut corners’.

But, each time we break the rules we take a risk, and occasionally we may take one risk too many, which can lead to an accident or hazardous incident. The statistics tell us that the majority of accidents are as a result of human failings, and many can be put down to violations of the rules and regulations.

For example, as often as not, ship collisions result from the incorrect or improper interpretation of the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (known as the ‘Collision Regulations’ or ‘Colregs’, terms which in themselves are contradictions!)

Indeed, it has led one observer to suggest that ‘the overall picture tends to be one of a game with no referee, played by contestants with different rulebooks, each perfectly convinced they have the right answer.’ 


Staff Author