The development of safety procedures has often been a story of stops and starts, where each surge is preceded by an unfortunate incident. In the maritime world, milestones like Titanic, Herald of Free Enterprise and Estonia are tragic events but, at the same time, they have made seafaring safer and safer. We define our basic ability for survival as ‟trial and error.” Do it again and do it right.
When building a system, whether it consists of a simple tool or an entire ship, the traditional idea is to have a safe and perfect system, until a user comes along and jeopardizes the safety of it all.
But is it true that humans can only learn by making mistakes? Is the human factor always the unreliable one?
Hans Hederström, founder and director of Carnival Corporation’s CSMART Academy is a remarkably gentle man… until he gets started on the argument about the human factor.
His pathos breaks through along with his frustration:
“The problem is not with humans; it is with the system. The mechanisms are complex and cannot be described in detail. A human must constantly adapt to the complex world and that’s what we call ‘good seamanship’. However, it is very difficult to adapt if you don’t have the required skills and experience as a base.”