According to a review conducted by insurance provider Allianz, human error accounts for 75% of the 15,000+ marine insurance claims filed over the last five years. Overall, this adds up to over $1.6 billion in claims.

There is a definite move towards automation in the maritime industry, with maritime 5G allowing for more reliable connected devices that in turn will improve everything from tracking to energy efficiency.

However, we’re still a long way away from being able to make our container ships 100% automated so, for the time being at least, human beings still need to be a part of the equation and human beings are prone to error.

That’s why we’ve summarised the 5 tips all maritime safety tips that all workers should take heed of before setting sail.

Be alert

The maritime world can be a complicated one and there are hundreds of things that can go wrong, particularly in emergency situations.

Be assertive and alert a senior team member if you notice anything wrong for support. Being alert also means ensuring that all team members have had enough sleep. Fatigue can have serious implications on motivation and mental health, which can lead to accidents.

Situational awareness

Don’t ignore anything, even if you think it might be easier to overlook. Be 100% aware of the situation at all times and ensure that all risk assessments have been made and checklists have been ticked off.

Going into autopilot can be an easy trap to fall into but remember – just because you think everything feels OK, that doesn’t mean it necessarily is. In the same breath, however, with so much going on at sea it can also be surprisingly easy to be driven to distraction, it’s the one human factor that we often forgive and overlook.

You can circumvent this by declaring a dedicated ‘red zone’ where only essential communications are allowed and keeping your fellow team members focused on the task at hand.


If there are members on board who speak in different languages or different language skill levels in general then there can be breakdowns in communication and these will invariably lead to accidents. This means dedicating some time towards establishing a communications strategy that works. This is especially important when handling heavy cargo.


This goes hand-in-hand with communication. Being able to work as a team means sharing a common goal and working together to achieve it.

This is not something that can be built overnight, of course, but if you take the time to listen to your shipmates and get to know them a little this will help in the long run.

That being said, all team members should be suitably qualified and equipped with the relevant experience. They should also be competent and be able to combine technical and ‘soft’ skills, so if you notice a team member who is not up to the task, don’t be afraid to report them as they could be a safety risk.

Safety culture

Work to instil a culture of safety onboard your ship that includes a keenly outlined process for reporting incidents, analysing their solutions and providing feedback.

This means ensuring all safety issues are reported ASAP, colleagues are helped to understand the culture and that team members are not afraid to suggest changes in operation procedures as long as they improve the safety of all onboard.

Accidents will happen at sea, but by following the tips above you should be able to keep those accidents to a bare minimum.

Remember, before embarking on a job to also be aware of the layout of your ship. Most ships have professional scale models commissioned for this very purpose and some even have digital tours you can take on your computer or smart device. It’s easier than ever before to start safe at sea in 2020 but don’t let your guard down as complacency is often the greatest safety hazard of all!