Nautical Institute: Alert! Issue No.27

Friday, September 02, 2011

Engineers and the human element.

With ships’ machinery systems becoming ever more complex, the role of the marine engineer has been changing from the traditional ‘hands-on’ approach to one where on-board staff monitor the condition of machinery, closely supervised by technical managers ashore.

The latest issue of the international maritime human element bulletin Alert! considers these changes and the important human element implications for modern marine engineers. The bulletin argues that this new regime depends heavily upon shared expertise and good communications between ship and shore. Problems arise where knowledge, skills and experience do not keep up with fast moving technology.

Alert! warns that investigations after incidents often reveal poor leadership; inadequate training and skills; poor procedures or inadequate instruction from handbooks. These failings must be urgently addressed.

In this important edition, practical marine engineers provide advice on this vital issue, showing how awareness and appreciation of the human element can play a key role in strengthening practice and procedures in the engine room, as in every area of ship operation.

Articles highlight:

decision making skills
• the importance of realistic drills
• the role of Human Factors Engineering in rework projects, alterations and machinery upgrades

The roles of technical directors, superintendents, chief engineers, technical officers and specialists are considered in the light of their roles in this new regime.

In this issue of Alert! engineers emphasise the importance of training, particularly onboard vessels. They say training needs to address the loss of practical skills. It is also argued that engineers need human element skills in addition to their mechanical abilities if they are to perform optimally. Of these, one of the most important is communication skills, including the ability to work in multi-lingual and multi-national teams.

Effective management of risk and resources, and the vital contribution of effective maintenance are important elements in this engineering-centred edition of this useful bulletin.

 

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