Incident Investigation

Incident Investigation

Investigation of Marine Incidents

The marine industry experiences incidents that range from major accidents to near misses. These incidents should be investigated since many flag Administration regulations require it, international agreements like the ISM Code mandate it and industry initiatives encourage it. Incident investigation is a process that is designed to help organizations learn from past performance and develop strategies to improve safety.

The ABS approach to incident investigation caters to the unique needs of the marine industry, including the human element, machinery and engineering, structural and security concerns. The objectives of the ABS approach are as follows.

  • Provide a technique that will guide incident investigators when conducting root cause analyses in identifying, documenting and trending the causes of accidents and close calls
  • Assist with the investigation of a variety of incident types (e.g. groundings, collisions, fires, etc.) and sizes of incidents (minor to major, including close calls) related to their vessels and facilities (ashore and at sea)
  • Allow analysis of losses whether they are related to safety, the environment, human element concerns, security, reliability, quality or business losses
  • Supportive activities such as Tanker Management and Self-Assessment (TSMA), as well as the ISM Code and the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code
  • Provide a technique that is sufficiently flexible to allow customization to a user’s management system, Health Safety and Environment (HSE) programs or related initiatives

ABS developed the Guidance Notes on the Investigation of Marine Incidents to provide the maritime industry with a structured approach to the investigation of incidents and close call (near miss) events. These Guidance Notes contain information to assist with identifying and documenting apparent root causes (ACAs) and root cause analyses (RCAs). Although the examples used within the ABS Guidance Notes are predominantly those having safety and health impacts, the term “incident” is used to generically identify situations that have any one or more of these types of consequences.

The ABS Incident Investigation Model, encapsulates a process for conducting investigations following losses whether they are related to people, structures, machinery, equipment, outfitting or other factors.