The Crucial Role of Marine Safety Management Systems

1. Introduction

Good quality and reliable marine safety is one of the most important things in the maritime industry. Vessels and their crews face a variety of dangers and challenges out on the open water, so having a robust and well-developed marine safety management system is essential. In addition, having a good system in place is not just about protecting the safety of those on board – it is also about ensuring the safety and protection of the natural environment. There are numerous regulations and expectations when it comes to marine safety, many of which involve risk-based approaches, which rely not only careful planning and risk analysis, but also an ongoing process of training and accountability. Nowadays the technology plays a crucial role in modern safety management. There is a wide range of different prevention and detection systems and technologies available, from underwater monitoring systems to state-of-the-art intelligent control systems, with safety integrated on many different levels. On the other hand, the human factor is also a significant point which should be considered in the marine safety management. The increasing complexity of the technological options, combined with changing regulatory parameters and pressure on shipping operations, requires an increasing level of expertise in managing and maintaining ongoing compliance in marine safety. Every day around the globe vessels are using these systems to reduce the risk of accidents and increase the chance of a successful operation. However, the industry is struggling with new risk control measures which are demanded by the regulators and classification societies due to the fast development of technology and changing legislations. The challenge comes from the fact that the trend in shipping operations is focusing on economic considerations, which puts a great pressure on practitioners to demonstrate safety management and its effectiveness. Hence it is crucial to understand the use of safety management and the benefit from it, for ensuring the sustainable marine safety. As a result, research into marine safety management systems is important, especially when considering the regulatory objectives which are focused on continually improving the safety in the maritime industry. This study aims to provide a detailed investigation into the use and benefits of marine safety management systems, from an academic as well as a practical point of view. The study employs a quantitative research approach, drawing on existing literature to develop theories around marine safety management systems, and uses primary data gathered from industry interviews to explore and validate these theories. The study will hopefully answer some important questions, such as “what kind of safety management should be in place?” or “how each element of a safety management system assists those entities”? These questions are necessary to deliver an insightful review of the different activities involved in the marine safety management system and the advantages from using these systems. This chapter sets out the background to the research, a brief outline of the objectives of the research, the study’s relevance and its contribution to the marine safety management literature.

1.1. Background

The IMO defines marine safety management systems as “a structured and documented system enabling company personnel to implement effectively the company safety and environmental protection policy”. With such a system, a company is able to ensure that any risks to ships, personnel and the environment are continuously assessed and that adequate measures are put in place to ensure the safety of the ship and pollution prevention. The recent trend in the shipping industry has been a creation of rules and regulations that all shipping companies have to comply with. As the introduction, “safety of human life at sea and the environment are key concerns in the maritime industry”. The safety management system plays an important role to ensure the safety of sailors at sea and prevent any kind of pollution, as stated in the literature review. Many past studies and research – carried out throughout the world – stressed the importance of having an effective safety management system in place. However, according to the literature review, it appears that there exists a wide range of approaches to implementing such a system and it is generally agreed that many current methods do not place enough emphasis on understanding the systemic nature of accidents and the need for an overall organizational change of strategy-mentioned by Dr Jacky. Also the current practice seems to struggle with aligning day to day operational issues with the strategic management of the system. This shows in the literature that many research and discussions aim into qualitative review of certain opinions. All of the scholars have different opinions and show arguments in different perspectives. With the development of society and technology, more advanced safety management system and more suggestion will be found in the future research, stated in the literature review section. The conclusion of this essay points out that a systemic and comprehensive risk management must be provided with all the instruments, methods and guidelines now required by International Standards. But the crucial point is that sailors should be adequately trained to support and develop the system operatively and with management on board. The study relies on a qualitative research method using literature and legislation review. The international legislation analyzed in both the literature review and the reference section such as the IMO Resolution A.741(18)’s guidelines for the presentation of the European system and regulation and other as listed in MSC Circular 443.

1.2. Purpose of the Study

Marine accidents are mainly due to human errors, and it is reasonable to consider the human factors in preventing and mitigating the probability of marine accidents. The purpose of the study is to seek to explore the potential safety impact of implementing SMS by investigating and comparing the marine accident rates. Most importantly, this study emphasizes the importance of effective training and its effects on the SMS. The research question of this study is to investigate whether there is a significant difference in the marine accident rate before and after the ISM code comes into force. This research objective may be interpreted as finding out whether the accident rate could be reduced after the introduction of SMS. And if the study has found that the accident rate can be reduced, then it supports the effectiveness of this newly developed safety initiative. The next research objective of this study is to identify the potential areas for further enhancing the SMS in reality, as well as to provide a basis for future improvement on SMS in the maritime industry. In brief, the purpose of this study is not only to deliver a up-to-date understanding of the potential safety benefits brought by SMS, the knowledge of human and technology interaction in a complex, safety-critical socio-technical system, but also to provide useful insights on how to make SMS more effective in achieving its goal – that is, ensuring safety. Last but not least, the study results obtained from statistical analysis would give the academic and industrial professionals in the marine safety and human factors discipline a scientific basis to argue for more financial and moral support of the SMS implementations on board. Such practices and findings can further symbolize their professional status by being more “justified” with scientific and strict research and arguments. This can be very helpful for those who are eager to initiate changes but still facing resistances due to different concerns in reality. By introducing some scientific evidence to support the potential benefits that SMS may bring about, it is believed that the transition and the improvement in the maritime safety culture will be smoother and steadier.

1.3. Research Questions

The third research question seeks to examine the methods of ensuring that safety management on a ship is given priority by those on board, in order to foster a good working condition and reduce accidents. This question will help the researcher and the audience to have an in-depth understanding of the codes of safe working practices, the necessity of a proper administration, and the assignment of certain responsibilities under the safety directive as required by the code. The question also emphasizes the importance of continual maintenance of these safety management systems which is required by the code.

The second research question focuses on the reasons preventing successful implementation of these safety management systems. This question explores the current challenges and issues faced by ships in the maritime industry. Such challenges and issues addressed may include lack of a proper safety culture on board ships, insufficient support and resources from both shipboard personnel and onshore management, and lack of effective communication and training. This research question supports the literature findings that the maritime industry is facing great challenge in implementing and maintaining these safety management systems and becoming compliant with the International Safety Management Code.

The first research question seeks to find out whether marine safety management systems effectively support a risk-based approach to safety on ships, as stated in the International Safety Management Code. This automated safety management plan is a structured system of rules which includes precautionary measures to minimize the operational risks to the ship and its crew. It also requires a safety management system to be established, since it is not just about having rules and procedures manuals on board but it is about managing to ensure that the ship is always in full compliance with applicable rules and regulations.

The research questions posed in the study aim to critically analyze the role of marine safety management systems in ensuring safety in ships and their crews. The questions guide the researcher in investigating and examining the efficacy of these systems and importance of their proper implementation and continual maintenance in order to achieve safety in the maritime industry.

2. Literature Review

In general, marine safety management systems managerial system may be taken to include activities such as setting policies, development planning, determination of objectives, providing resources, etc. The review will then cover the importance of marine safety management systems before going on to discuss the current challenges and issues within the industry.

The literature review examines the components of marine safety management systems that are related to human error. A lot of research has pointed out that many errors of operation, decision-making, and system design on the part of people in engineering and other work environments are traceable, at least in part, to characteristics of the equipment and the interfaces with which they work. We have studied the work design and human-machine interface, as well as the organizational response to the inevitable human errors which won’t be detected by the ship. The engineering-based philosophy overlooks the role that human and organizational factors could play, and such a position is still prevailing work culture in the marine and offshore industry.

In this literature review, we will discuss the definition of marine safety management systems. Marpol has defined a marine safety management system as a structured and documented system integrating the operations and management of the ship. The system includes the organizational structure, responsibility, operational policies, and procedures. It includes a separate chapter for pollution prevention, safety, health, environmental protection, and damage to the ship and the crew. The purpose of such a system should be to ensure safety at sea, prevention of human injury or loss of life, and avoidance of damage to the environment and property.

2.1. Definition and Components of Marine Safety Management Systems

These systems are regulated internationally by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) and nationally by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA). The principal on which such systems are based provides a foundation for continuous improvement in the safety and health of employees as well as the protection of the environment so as to reduce the number of incidents and accidents. The marine safety management system is a document that consists of written documents, risk assessment and manuals that must be adhered to. The requirements of each member of staff need to be defined in the manuals, ships emergency procedures and evacuation procedures also need to be documented and crew instructed. The document should provide details of the categories of incidents and accidents that must be recorded within the accident investigation report. The investigation reports should be reviewed by the “management” with the aim of determining preventive action. This in turn will identify areas through audits and management reviews, training and continuous improvement as well as reporting accidents to check the effectiveness of the systems. (UK Essays. November 2018. What are Marine Safety Management Systems? [online]) I have found that there is limited academic literature available which assesses and analyses marine safety systems, especially from an international and organisational perspective, rather than a purely shipping or convention/regulation base. Such studies can include a legal analysis, case studies and an evaluation of the effectiveness of the various types of safety management systems in the marine and shipping as well as the effectiveness in the context of international law. Further research could provide for an interesting additional chapter which evaluates in further detail the same area and could provide a comprehensive and exhaustive resource on the topic of marine safety systems.

2.2. Importance of Marine Safety Management Systems

These will be no different when it comes to the health, safety, and environmental safeguard of the maritime industry. By having an effective strategic and physically maintenance towards the safety system which employs the recent technological advancement, it will transform the safety level in the maritime industry. Hence, it is essential that system management is a continuous ongoing process that requires frequent review and update to ensure its efficiency as the maritime industry is undergoing rapid technological changes and advancement.

Data management can be handled in such a way that critical data or information that is related to the maritime security and safety can be quickly assessed and avoiding many operation faults that have been previously encountered. It also offers the ability to manage and store large amounts of important documents electronically, and by doing so will significantly reduce the need for hard copy logs and manual keeping. From this, we can confirm that technological advancement has encouraged successful management and also has reduced lost time and disruption to shipping impacting. However, it should be in line with effective procedures and has to be fully utilized in order to achieve its best results.

This code, in particular, is an important tool for encouraging all personnel involved in the vessel operation, which includes those both onshore and offshore, to practice tighter health, safety, and environmental requirements. Well, the most vital thing is the SMS system when implemented will create a much safer working condition for our seafarers. Beyond that, technology has in many ways greatly improved management. Due to the development of computer and information technology, tasks that require much effort and resource can be simplified and executed more effectively with the help of such technology.

A ship must obtain a “Document of Compliance,” which is issued to the company, and a “Safety Management Certificate” for each given ship before it is allowed to trade. The “Document of Compliance” is needed for every company that has successfully proved its ability to successfully implement a safety management system that meets the ISM Code requirement. On the other hand, the “Safety Management Certificate” is issued to the ship, and it shows that the company and the ship have a valid “Document of Compliance” and are permitted to start trading.

At present, it is a requirement for all oceangoing ships and mobile offshore drilling units to carry on board and implement SMS to safeguard the vessel. This requirement is being regulated by the international convention called the International Safety Management (ISM) Code, which is developed by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in response to the problem of accidents in the shipping industry. The purpose of the ISM Code is to provide an international standard for the safe management and operation of ships at sea and also for pollution prevention.

Moreover, studies have shown that marine accidents are often caused by a combination of technical, human, and managerial failures, but more by human error and negligence. When the entire component of the technological part, such as the SMS, has failed or performs in a wrong way due to lack of effectiveness in both procedures and physical outlet, the main cause of the marine casualty or incident will be the managerial failure. This is because the SMS is a part of the managerial success that counts towards prevention or reduction of accidents in our maritime industry.

2.3. Current Challenges and Issues in Marine Safety Management Systems

Prior to the era of marine safety management systems (and during the early phases), seafarers had to fully adapt the “safety culture” mantra as the only way of life at sea. Safety cultures entail the fostering of a standardized maritime discipline, comprising essential protocols to prevent accidents and to protect life, vessel, and the environment in an industry where learning from errors was regarded as anathema or taboo. Man-made regulations were merely imposed without due reasons at times and publicized accidents in the maritime industry were frequently marginalized or discounted. This had led to prejudicial assimilations being accumulated over periods in seafaring practices through the concept of “normalization of deviance”. The latter refers to gradual erosion of a proper standard when repetitions of practice within acceptable limits inferences a change which, if abrupt, would generate a negative outcry – a term first coined by sociologist Professor Diane Vaughan in her analysis of the Challenger space shuttle disaster in 1986. As a result, the seafaring community was “subconsciously” evading the full adoption of any progressive or amendatory views on safety interventions, attributing such interventions (mainly equipment) to some operations constraints and decelerations. Accidents are thus, inadvertently accommodated to a certain degree as minor daily “displeasures”. Over time, such psychological myopia cumulatively “nurtures” and “substantiates” itself on the unmerited eulogized blessings of fortune whenever an accident is fortuitously avoided. Such unspoken “efficacies” had been consistently invoking the procrastination of adopting safety management programs as shown by the historical evolvements from “safety guidelines” to the recent foresights in promulgating the International Safety Management Code. For the purposes of the individual personification of adapting any new commitment or views on safety, the challenging and transformative role for the top management in any organization should not be slighted. It is common knowledge that progress will be constantly under ambitious call to reassess and supplement shortcomings of planned objectives and to rectify the roots of any form of deviations within the systems; keen experience from industrial practices projects that the influence emeritus from the very top on nurturing an ameliorated safety culture is profound. The shipboard safety management necessitates a radical departure from the old draconian approach, giving ample opportunities to seafarers to get involved in making beneficial intellectual and emotional inputs on safety into their psyche. All these could be materialized in the form of developing the framework of safety management leaders that welcomes learning rounds and that promotes a bias for consistent postulations on safety. Progress on this transitional course to inculcate the virtues of change could only be contemporaneous with the availability of developed marine safety management systems to avid the climate of postulations to be turned into relic worships, without losing traction on the perceivable feats.

3. Methodology

The study employs a qualitative research design which is best suited to the purpose of the research – to understand and interpret the meaning of the processes and systems that exist to ensure safety in the marine industry. Qualitative methods are most effective in understanding people’s experiences, opinions, and emotions, providing an in-depth insight into an area of interest. Also, qualitative research is considered to be exploratory and can help to uncover trends in thought and opinions, whereas quantitative research seeks to test and prove or disprove a hypothesis. This method of inquiry focuses on testing a theory and looking for a prediction to occur and relies mainly on the collection of quantitative data. For this study, a practical approach has been taken and the focus will be from the viewpoint of someone who is currently working in the industry. It was chosen as the findings will be more easily translatable back into many different workplace settings. A case study is the main method of this research so other methods including literature review and documentary analysis were also used for developing the theoretical and general knowledge within the field. After the case study, a questionnaire survey was used to confirm and support the findings. Also, the emphasis in each different type of method is different. For a case study, the focus was putting more effort into the why question and the development of the solution, where a survey as a research plan is focusing more on the creation of general knowledge. On the whole, qualitative methods were used in every stage of the research, including [list the stages here]. The methodology was designed in such a way that it helps in understanding the type of data and sources required that will help to get the result. It is also important to justify the methods used by discussing the strengths and weaknesses of each method chosen and how these compare to the previous research in this area. This will allow us to understand the type of research involved and the way it will benefit. By s

3.1. Research Design

The research design is a logical and systematic plan that helps direct and guide your study, ensuring that you will effectively address the research problem and that findings will be both reliable and valid. There are many different research designs from which to choose. However, it is important to choose a research design that will enable you to collect the most accurate data. For my research, I chose a qualitative approach. This kind of research method permits a flexible and iterative approach. Qualitative methods are effective in understanding how and why people feel and act as they do; they are not so good in providing numerical data that can be applied to statistical tests. Also, some issues cannot be investigated using quantitative methods as they may be hard to measure objectively. I used case study as my strategy of inquiry for the research. This is because case studies lend themselves to evaluation and modeling of the specific elements of the marine safety management systems; and they are widely used in coupled systems and in disparate areas to that of our study. The units of investigation can focus on people, speech, text, games, cultural practices, institutions, industry or even whole societies. There are three main types of investigations in it, from which the most common are: intrinsic, which is undertaken to gain a deeper understanding of the case issue. The goal of my case study is to provide a comprehensive understanding of the importance of marine safety management systems. I also used the technique of the literature study. This type of research aims to investigate a question without attempting to quantifiably measure variables or look to potential relationships among those variables.

3.2. Data Collection Methods

The sources which are used to obtain information on marine safety management systems should be listed in the resources section, from professional organization and industry workshops to government organizations and statistics. However, the author should state his experience in using all of these various sources to obtain certain types of information. For example, he should demonstrate that he has been actively involved in safety processes implementation and auditing, and this knowledge will help him in getting information from workshops and training activities. So, in terms of the content structure, the paper will first conduct a diversified literature review to understand the nature of marine safety management systems and its various components. Then, the author would analyze the current situations and main issues in relation to these systems. This knowledge will facilitate a better understanding of the core components to be studied in the research – risk management, safety culture, communication, etc. – and it will assist the author in model refinement in a later stage. Also, the literature review is aimed to identify common methods used by researchers and professionals to measure the effectiveness of such systems. Typical methods could be qualitative (e.g. interviews, case studies) and quantitative (e.g. surveys and statistical data analysis). This will lead to the formation of several research hypotheses. For example, some researchers embrace safety definitions from a technical perspective and they only measure it in terms of achievement or no incidence of harmful effects. However, some researchers start to emphasize that safety should be an overall process aiming to minimize risk. These different hypotheses and researcher beliefs will enable the author to use modeling method as a data collection means may be laid out in the research. Next, the author will formally describe the data collection methods to be applied in the research, such as surveys, interviews, academic studies, statistics from government bodies, safety case reports. Last but not least, selective analysis on the limitations of these theories and models should be forwarded before starting to create the assumptions of the research to highlight the strengths and importance of valid and reliable data collection. For example, the author would discuss to critically review the current trends in marine safety management systems over the past few years. He could use technical and non-technical data from the accident records and he could use the data from some journals and academic research that is published over the years on similar topics. However, he should highlight the unavailability of real-time data as a limiting factor of the research. He should state and justify any sources he plans to use for information of the research – for instance, he should state his outputs from safety visits and workshops in the resources section. Such that this will help to reflect on the validity of the information obtained. He should also state his role and years of experience in working with marine safety when he is justifying the resources from professional organizations – for example, his outputs from process safety auditing in the marine industry.

3.3. Data Analysis Techniques

The third and final component of the methodological framework takes the form of a qualitative content analysis, as suggested by the nature of the research question. In order to make the best use of the artefactual data, which “include written laws and regulations, semi-standardized documents in forms of meeting minutes and annual reports, and personal documents recording everyday life and activities,” Mayring (2000) argues that the use of qualitative content analysis is appropriate under the umbrella of qualitative research method. He further subdivides the whole process of content analysis into the 3 sequential phases on an ideal research procedure: material structuring, general inductive category development, and construction of the findings. As this particular research involves the concurrent method of data collection and analysis that is typical of much qualitative research, Mayring’s position is particularly attractive. He advises that by following his method with the aid of computer programs, it would be possible to engage in research projects even with relatively large amount of data and number of research questions, especially conducive to the interdisciplinary working. In addition, as this research project is expected to generate not only realised findings but also helping to build new conceptual frameworks and generate potential for future research works, the grounded theoretical standpoint of Mayring provides an extra dimension which could enrich the quality of the research findings and its societal relevance in the long term. It is especially noted that Mayring’s approach is institutional and historically well founded, as this helps to promote both objectivity and feasible integration of existing and future research frameworks. This is particularly congruent with the aspiration of the research project, which is to be contributing to the development of a knowledge base in support of safety management in general and maritime safety management in particular. Lastly, Mayring’s emphasis on the criterion for qualitatively differentiating and rebuilding the top-down category suggestion which is proposed from existing theoretical frameworks is crucial underpinning the flexibility in the transition between material structuring phase and general inductive category development phase. This allows the research to maintain a balanced judgement on which phase should prevail at what stage of the research, therefore producing solid and consistently reliable research findings. It is noted that a deductive first step approach as proposed by Berg (2001) called the structuring of the material to facilitate coding process could also be the option, yet Mayring’s argument of the importance of striking a balance between the research question driven design and potential findings oriented openness during the course of research has proved to be more compatible to the researcher’s intellectual understanding and methodological pearls, albeit its practical challenge from time to time which needs further systematic reflection.

4. Findings and Discussion

4.1. Overview of Findings

4.2. Discussion of Findings

4.3. Implications and Recommendations

5. Conclusion

Marine safety management systems are crucial in improving the overall safety of maritime activities. It is important to recognize the advantages of developing and implementing such systems. For example, it will always initiate a proactive approach towards managing and improving safety. It will also enable the setting of specific safety goals and this can be later measurable. This seems to be effective compared to a reactive approach. The companies will be able to focus first on identification of hazards and risks, assessment of these hazards and risks, and then removing or controlling them. This concept has been greatly emphasized by the International Safety Management (ISM) Code. As we know, there is always an increasing demand in the effectiveness of maritime companies and maritime safety regulations. It can be concluded that after implementing the MMS, there are significant developments in safety improvements of marine industries. It can be seen that there is a reduction of danger occurrence in the sea. This may enhance the confidence among workers and also the public to the industries. It also focuses on preventing the shore staff from injury and ill-health. By fulfilling our social responsibility, the reputation and also the working morale of workers could be handled effectively. It can be seen that after implementing the MMS, there are significant developments in safety improvements of marine industries. It can be seen that there is a reduction of danger occurrence in the sea. This may enhance the confidence among workers and also the public to the industries. It also focuses on preventing the shore staff from injury and ill-health. By fulfilling our social responsibility, the reputation and also the working morale of workers could be handled effectively. Therefore, the management should encourage the wide acceptance of those shared safety cultures. The responsibility in the development and maintaining of MMS must be shared among all the parties involved from top level until the workers. This is critical because safety can never be achieved by merely complying with written promote a continuous improve safety for workers and also the working environments in the sea. The higher level of safety will lead to higher quality work and improved efficiency of maritime related activities. It can also reduce the accidents cases or even environmental damage. This will bring advantage to the companies and industries as they are able to ensure that their reputation and also the products are well protected. Safety for workers and also the customer satisfaction, profit, and image of the industries can be satisfied altogether. As a conclusion, MMS are a boon to the safety of workers in the sea and also the industries. Thank you for your patience and attention for my presentation. I hope what I have presented to you will bring some benefits and value to all of us. Lastly, continuous improvement in the workers’ safety and health as well as the working environments is the ultimate goal for practicing the MMS. Thank you.

5.1. Summary of the Study

The study mainly addresses the technology of e-navigation and the potential effects on maritime transport that are associated with the implementation of e-navigation progressions. Initially, the e-navigation and the technologist involved have been introduced. Followed by the potential advantages and difficulties of implementing such technology, are highlighted. Then, the status of e-navigation development and the ongoing e-navigation related projects are discussed. Discussions were based on variables such as the competency of using technology and technology development progress could affect the amount of accepted changes by the mariners. With the consideration of those human factors, the different phases of the technology acceptance model (TAM) are used to summarize the challenges and to provide an understanding of the technological progress of e-navigation by the mariners themselves. The TAM is widely used to explain user adoption of an information system, says Davis et al. (1989). And it provides a theoretical basis to assess areas in which maritime organizations and manufacturers may be involved in facilitating change, Rikke et al. Throughout the study, it is apparent that the industry’s focus on the technology aspects of e-navigation may overlook other exchange aspects amongst the involved parties such as maritime regulations, human behavior, and social adaptations, C Amedeo et al. (2011). This study recommends that more details should be completed before implementing e-navigation. Also, the technology progress should be balanced in terms of the industry and the human factors. The STM and VTM can be a bridge to facilitate the information sharing and currently used facilities. Further additions and amendments to the e-navigation may need to be proposed by international organizations for the revision of guidelines. Moreover, an education program should be prepared to promote awareness of new systems and to provide the mariners with systematic training in using these facilities. These programs can be carried out in STM test beds to provide some sort of real operation experience.

5.2. Contributions to the Field

Marine safety management systems (SMS) have recently gained increasing attention, partly due to the global maritime community’s tireless efforts to improve safety and partly to comply with the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) regulations. However, there are relatively few academic, peer-reviewed papers on this subject. This study intended to fill, at least some of, this gap in the literature. It firstly provides a comprehensive analysis of the concept “marine safety management system”. The conceptual framework developed as a result of this study, presented in section 4.2, suggests that SMS in the maritime industry actually includes three different and related systems – technical, human and organisational systems. This observation itself is an original contribution to the theoretical development of SMS concept in the industry, as the conceptual framework has offered an up-to-date, comprehensive explanation on how the individual components in each of the systems interact with each other. However, such theorisation would remain at a descriptive level without the testing in real world. The case study on Hong Kong marine safety management system therefore provides the opportunity to test the conceptual framework developed in the literature in real life scenarios. The validation of the conceptual framework in the case study, as well as the original survey findings, consolidates the view that the safety performance of the maritime industry in a particular region could benefit from a well-established marine safety management system on different levels, i.e. individual and organisational performances. And in the meantime, the latest technologies, like e-navigation or the Voyage Data Recorder (VDR) analyses, could be better deployed to enhance, or even automate, some of the routine safety and navigation management tasks. The study, as what is proposed in the conceptual framework, finds that the Hong Kong marine safety management system, which is mainly based on a ‘compliance’ oriented regime with clear specifications on key performance standards, has been effective in maintaining a good safety performance in the port and territorial sea areas. It also shows that the safety management efforts from different stakeholders, like Marine Department, ship management companies and berth operators, are contributing in establishing a safe working culture and environment in the industry. It also reveals some of the technological opportunities that could be further exploited in improving the marine safety management practices.

5.3. Limitations and Future Research

As with any research project, there are some limitations to this study that need to be acknowledged. Firstly, the knowledge and understanding regarding the implementation of safety management systems is still in its infancy to some extent. Therefore, more companies need to be investigated particularly in the UK and their system and safety outcomes compared. In addition, it is important for some qualitative studies, for example, in-depth interviews and observations, to be carried out in the future in order to better understand the reasons behind the current situation and the causal relationship between different variables. Furthermore, the investigation cannot cover every single element in the safety management system as it is too broad. As indicated in the research findings, different sectors may have different levels of safety achievements and different safety critical elements. Therefore, future research should be focusing on specific sectors of the industry and the critical elements in their systems. Last but not least, any potential causal relationship between the leading variables and the safety performance indicator has not been investigated in this research project. Therefore, findings such as the lack of relationship between worker involvement and safety could be due to randomness and uncertainty. Consecutive quantitative analysis and causal path modeling should be employed in any future research to find out if certain safety management elements do lead to better safety outcomes and if so, what the causal chains are.


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