By hiloadm | July 21st, 2022
Stuart Edmonston, UK P&I Loss Prevention Director
Stuart is an ex-master mariner and was at sea on a variety of different ship types including crude oil tankers, freight ferries, passenger ships and offshore drilling units. He joined Thomas Miller’s loss prevention department in 2014, and has also worked as a casualty investigator for a leading shipping law firm.
Throughout his career both onboard and onshore, he has seen shipping organisations repeatedly suffer the same safety incidents and marine casualties. He wanted to find out why this was, and what could be done.
Regular, Recurring Maritime Safety Incidents
Stuart explained that UK P&I is one of 13 clubs that make up The International Group of P&I Clubs in the mutual insurance association, looking after 3,500 tonnes’ worth of vessels.
But, he observed, it doesn’t matter how big clubs are; they all suffer the same incidents, the same casualties, again and again. The phone for the claims board is constantly ringing with people reporting incidents: either a sailor has injured themselves, or there’s a pollution event, or a cargo query or delay or damage.
Stuart spoke with strong feeling that: “As a mariner, I find it quite depressing to see the same incidents occurring, where seafarers are hurting themselves, and losing their lives.”
He explained that data is an area where UK P&I can drive their objectives forward. The insurance organisation is always looking for the best investments to improve safety and reduce claims.
Stuart therefore presents a detailed analysis to the UK P&I board 3 times a year about where incidents are occurring on the ships they insure. By using data to help find common trends and key risks, and sharing this information amongst their customers, they look to avoid the same issues reoccurring; particularly incidents that lead to sinking ships.
High-level incidents and claims
High-level incidents in the maritime industry are typical P&I (protection and indemnity insurance) risks: cargo, cruise, casualty, illness, injury and ‘the pool’ (any claim over $10 million).
For the first $10 million of a claim, with a ship that’s entered in their club, the club will pay. Anything over $10 million is shared by the other clubs within the International Group.
Stuart reflected that as we pay more attention to the environment, claims are getting more expensive. Quite rightly: if you drop oil in the ocean, it costs more to clean up and the fines are far greater. Claims now get to that $10 million quite quickly.
Illness and injury claims cover seafarers falling ill, hurting themselves or dying on ships that UK P&I insure. Stuart explained that these injuries and illnesses tend to be an indicator of initial technical or human error issues on-board vessels that might develop into future major incidents. UK P&I therefore focus strongly on helping to prevent these incidents.
Trend of marine incidents and claims
The overall trend of incidents is decreasing, and large incidents (costing over $500,000) are reducing. However, pool claims (over $10 million) rose sharply between 2021 and 2022.
2020-21 broke records in terms of pool claims – but 2021-22 has seen it broken again. This is not down to the number of claims, but purely down to the costs.
There have been 195 pool claims over the last 10 years, of which 161 were navigational. Speaking as a mariner, Stuart stated this was no surprise: navigation covers a wide range of incidents.
So, he noted, if you were a senior officer in a maritime company, you would probably ask your safety personnel: ‘what are we doing in navigation? Let’s spend some money on navigation.’ UK P&I thought the same, so in 2019 they launched a partnership with CAE, the biggest aviation training company in the world.
Importantly, CAE don’t just teach pilots how to fly planes; they also teach them how to communicate, and how to make decisions when something serious is going wrong. ‘Attitudes’ and ‘cultural awareness’ are among the 14 modules in their programme, and one of the most recent is ‘startle and surprise’.
For example, British Airways pilots, though trained in all technical aspects by the airline, also take a CAE training course. This ensures they also have the best mental and psychological preparation for dealing with incidents they may face, to try and remain as calm, effective and logical as possible in the face of danger.
Stuart noted that when he looked at the many navigational incidents that come through to the claims team, the vast majority involve ships where nothing technical has gone wrong with the vessel at all. Instead, it’s what seafarers do in the time just after the initial issue occurs that really matters.
UK P&I concentrated on this, using the high-level data that they have, and created a top-class safety training course called Maritime Crew Resource Management. It is designed especially for senior crew training officers, HSQE/HSSE managers, and DPAs, and encourages a step change in crew training and safety outcomes through exceptional human factor learning and instruction, and fresh approaches to safety, problem-solving and communication.
Huge thanks to Stuart for explaining the importance of sharing data and analysis across the industry to stop incidents that sink ships.
We were delighted to have him on HiLo’s panel at the Posidonia conference: ‘Using Data and Analytics to Prevent Maritime Incidents’.
You can also read presentations from our other panellists: