Alert! 11 - The Human Element jigsaw


Integrating the Human Element into a complex system such as a ship is a bit like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. There are many component parts, some of which are readily identifiable and easy to link together such that the semblance of a picture soon begins to form. There are, however, others that are not so obvious, and it takes a certain amount of ‘trial and error’ to fit them into the right slots until, eventually, the whole picture is complete.

A ship comprises of a number of component parts (systems) each of which will have some effect on the overall performance of that ship. The extent to which a system will have such effect will depend on how critical it is to the safety of the ship and to its crew. Some systems may be fully automated, but they will still require a degree of intervention from the seafarer, whether it is to set the initial tolerances or to respond to alarms.

Some may require direct seafarer input for their operation and for their maintenance. Others will require humans to interact with other humans, and some may be driven by ‘outside influences’ such as the environment, other humans, or technology. Furthermore, the shipboard environment requires seafarers from a variety of cultural backgrounds to work, socialise and live harmoniously with one another.


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