Annex Human element common terms
1 Human element
A departure from acceptable or desirable practice on the part of an individual or group of individuals that
can result in unacceptable or undesirable results.
2 Diminished human performance:
A physiological state of agitation or disturbance which can affect an individual's normal ability to perform
A sudden overpowering fear that reduces the ability to perform required tasks.
A state of uneasiness and distress about future uncertainties which may reduce the ability to properly focus
on a required task.
A problem which preoccupies the emotions and reduces the ability to perform required tasks. Examples
include physical disabilities, death or illness in the family, marital and other relationship problems, health
concerns, financial problems, anger, or poor interactions with shipmates.
Diminished mental ability that can reduce or impede an individual's normal ability to perform the mental
part of required tasks.
Consumption of alcoholic beverages which diminishes an individual's abilities to perform required tasks.
Examples include drinking on or too close to duty which can impede an individual's abilities; drunkenness
on duty; drinking off duty which results poor performance while on duty; and excessive drinking over a
longer period of time which results in a permanent decrease in mental abilities.
Use of medicine or a narcotic which effects an individual's abilities to perform required tasks.
There are many different effects on mental and physical capabilities that can result from the use of legal and
illegal drugs, such as extreme drowsiness to a false sense of competence to hallucinations. Mental abilities
of the user may also be distracted by the constant need to obtain additional drugs. In addition, individuals
may not be aware of the "side-effects" of legal drugs and may take them while on duty or forget to report
The loss of attention, notice, or regard; neglect. Examples include failing to monitor displays; not
maintaining a proper lookout; forgetting to perform an assigned duty. Inattention may also be the result of
other causes such as a personal problem, fatigue, drugs, boredom, or hearing problems.
Physical damage to the body which causes a decrease in mental or physical abilities. Examples include a
head injury and injuries such as a smashed finger or a severe burn where pain causes distraction and a loss
of mental ability.
Psychotic or erratic behaviour; depression; hallucinations; unexplainable or other forms of abnormal
Sickness which produces a decrease in mental or physical abilities but, not generally termed as mental
illness. Examples include: the general disability accompanying colds and flu; hallucinations due to high
fever; migraine headaches; seasickness; and even severe indigestion and exposure to toxic substances.
Lack of will or desire to perform well resulting in a decrease of an individual's normal performance of
Purposely taking an incorrect action or purposely failing to take the correct action. Examples include
dereliction of duty; refusal to obey commands; sabotage, theft or ignoring procedures.
A reduction in physical and/or mental capability as the result of physical, mental or emotional exertion
which may impair nearly all physical abilities including: strength; speed; reaction time; co-ordination;
decision making, or balance.
A problem with individual or group motivation as shown by reduced willingness, confidence, or disciplineto perform assigned tasks. Examples/causes may include interpersonal conflict amongst the crew, officers
with poor interpersonal skills, lack of a strong corporate or shipboard safety culture; excessively long tours
Lack of self-discipline:
Inadequate ability of an individual to control personal conduct. Examples include loss of temper, or
A reduced visual acuity due to a specific physical disability. Causes may include eye injury causing total or
partial blindness; not wearing prescribed glasses or contacts; inability to adequately adapt to darkness.
Diminished physical or mental capability as the result of the sum total of all the mental and physical tasks a
human must perform within a prescribed time resulting in a diminished job performance.
3 Marine environment:
Hazardous natural environment:
A situation in which the natural environment causes required tasks to become more difficult than usual.
Examples include storms; high waves; shallow water; severe shoaling; strong currents or tides; ice, rocks,
submerged wrecks, severe eddies, ship traffic, wind; fog; mist; rain; snow; sleet; haze; dust; airborne debris.
Poor human factors engineering design:
Poor design of the ship, its subsystems, its environmental controls, or its human-machine interfaces, which
results in an increased difficulty to perform shipboard tasks. Examples of poor human factors engineering
design include inadequate lighting; excessive noise; excessive vibration; inadequate heating, cooling, or
ventilation systems; hazardous deck, stair, ladder, bulkhead, or work surfaces; inadequate provision for foul
weather or degraded mode operations; inadequate restraints, guards, or hand-holds; poor workstation
orientation in regard to ship dynamics; poor hull seakeeping characteristics; controls which allow accidental
actuation; illegible or ambiguous control markings; illegible or ambiguous displays or display labels; poor
layout, sizing, and colouring of controls and displays; inadequate design for operational or maintenance
access; inadequate design for safety.
A situation in which individuals or groups of individuals degrade the shipboard environment making the
erformance of some required tasks more difficult. Examples include ship manoeuvres (e.g. increased speed,
change in course, erratic manoeuvres) impact ship dynamics causing balance and restraint difficulties, when
personnel performing one task interfere with those performing another; or where storage of cargo impedes
access or transit.
Failure to keep any part of the ship or its equipment in the condition it was designed to function within a
designated lifetime or operational period, thus degrading the shipboard environment and making the
performance of some required tasks more difficult. Examples of poor maintenance impacting on required
tasks are: inadequate replacement parts, tools to perform proper maintenance that are the result of a lack of
commitment from management.
4 Safety administration:
Inadequate technical knowledge:
Not knowing, due to inadequate experience and/or training, the general knowledge which is required for the
individual's job on board. Examples are navigation, seamanship, propulsion systems, cargo handling,
communications, or weather.
Inadequate situational awareness:
Not knowing, due to inadequate experience, lack of communication/co-ordination, and/or training, the
current status of the ship, its systems, or its environment. Examples include lack of knowledge of location,
heading or speed or lack of knowledge of status of ongoing maintenance on board.
Lack of communication or co-ordination:
Not making use of all the available information sources to determine current status. This may be the result
of a lack of initiative on the part of the individual or a lack of initiative and/or cooperation on the part of
others. Examples of poor communication/co-ordination include: poor communication between bridge
officers, poor communication with pilots, or poor deck to engine room co-ordination.
Inadequate knowledge of ship operations:
Lack of knowledge resulting from inadequate experience, a failure to know regulations, an inadequate
knowledge of procedures, inadequate training, and/or being unaware of your role/task responsibility.
Examples of areas where you might lack knowledge are: navigation, seamanship, propulsion systems, cargo
handling, communications, or weather.
Inadequate knowledge regulations/standards:
Lack of knowledge or understanding of required regulations due to inadequate experience and/or training.
Examples of possible regulations: company policies and standards, national and international regulations,
other port State's maritime regulations, local jurisdiction regulations, shipboard regulations, cautionary
notices, chart notations, or labelling.
Inadequate knowledge of ship procedures:
Not knowing due to inadequate experience and/or training the shipboard and company policies requiring
adequate knowledge of your own ship's operation. Examples include emergency procedures, maintenance
procedures, administrative procedures, and safety system procedures.
Unaware of role/task responsibility:
Inadequate knowledge of the specific job required of an individual. Examples include a lack of
understanding of command responsibilities, communications responsibilities, safety responsibilities,
maintenance responsibilities, and emergency responsibilities.
Inadequate language skills:
A lack of primary language skills necessary to communicate and perform duties as required. This includes
total or partial inability to speak, read, or comprehend the primary language and/or other required language
sufficiently to understand all shipboard commands, instructions, procedures, labels, warnings, and
Failure to maintain discipline:
Failing to ensure that personnel submit to authority, regulations and procedures. Examples include:
tolerating unqualified or inept personnel, not enforcing regulations and procedures, tolerating inappropriate
Failure of command:
Mistakes in giving commands. Examples of faulty command include: proper command not given, proper
command not given at the appropriate time or out of sequence with other commands, incorrect commands,
Inadequate oversight of activities of personnel under an individual's supervision. Examples of faulty
supervision include: not checking to see that a job was performed in a timely and correct manner, not
providing proper resources to problems brought to the attention of the supervising individual, unequal
treatment of personnel.
Inadequate co-ordination or communication:
Failure to communicate and coordinate to address issues, problems, and tasks both aboard ship and ashore.
Examples include: poor communication between bridge officers, poor communication with pilots, poor
communications with home office, poor deck to engine room co-ordination.
Inadequate management of physical resources:
Poor management of physical resources which ensure that people have the tools, equipment, supplies,
facilities, food, water, fuel, etc. to perform their required tasks. Examples of faulty management of physical
resources include: absence of physical resources, shortage of physical resources, inappropriate physical
resources, physical resources stored improperly, physical resource difficult to obtain when needed.
Failing to ensure that all required tasks aboard ship can be properly performed and that adequate personnel
of the proper skill level, physical and mental ability, experience, certification, and inclination to properly
perform those tasks.
Inadequate manpower available:
Not assigning and assuring availability of adequate personnel with appropriate skill levels to a ship, or to a
specific task aboard the ship to ensure safe and efficient operation.
Poor job design:
Specifying job or task requirements which are unreasonable, inefficient, impossible, excessive, or
impractical. Examples include: excessive watch duration or frequency, requiring a single person to
simultaneously monitor displays that are spatially separated, requiring exposure to hazardous materials
without proper protective gear.
Poor regulations, policies, procedures, or practices:
Any problem with standards, regulations, policies, procedures, or practices. For example: standards,
regulations, policies, procedures, or practices may be conflicting, inaccurate, inadequate, do not provide
sufficient detail, or outdated.
Misapplication of good regulations, policies, procedures, or practices:
The application of standards, regulations, policies, procedures, or practices at an incorrect time or in an
6 Mental action:
Lack of situational awareness:
An incorrect understanding of the current situation which can lead to a faulty hypothesis regarding a future
situation or a situation which is based upon incorrect beliefs leading to compounded errors that can
substantially increase the risk to the ship Examples include arriving at a hypothesis without confirmation of
which direction an oncoming ship will steer, incorrect interpretation of alarms on board ship (e.g. seawater
contamination of a fuel system during high seas).
Lack of perception:
When an individual does not properly understanding that a problem or situation exists. Examples include
misreading a dial, mishearing a command, misunderstanding a garbled radio message, thinking you smell
engine oil when it's actually crude, not noticing a list to starboard, overestimating the distance to the dock.
The misdiagnosis of a particular situation or problem once it has been perceived. It may be perceived that a
problem or situation exists, however, the identification is incorrect. Examples include misdiagnosis of a
sounded alarm that sounds similar to other alarms on board ship, incorrect recognition of a visual display
alarm on the bridge.
The incorrect identification of a problem or hazard once it has been recognized that the problem or hazard
exists. The alarms on a display panel may have identified a particular hazard to the ship (e.g. low fuel oil
pressure), however, the individual may misinterpreted the alarm and identified the problem incorrectly.