Accident Analysis & Prevention
Careful accident investigation provides opportunities to review safety arrangements in socio-technical systems. There is consensus that human intervention is involved in the majority of accidents. Ever cautious of the consequences attributed to such a claim vis-à-vis the apportionment of blame, several authors have highlighted the importance of investigating organizational factors in this respect. Specific regulations to limit what were perceived as unsuitable organizational influences in shipping operations were adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). Guidance is provided for the investigation of human and organizational factors involved in maritime accidents. This paper presents a review of 41 accident investigation reports related to machinery space fires and explosions. The objective was to find out if organizational factors are identified during maritime accident investigations. An adapted version of the Human Factor Analysis and Classification System (HFACS) with minor modifications related to machinery space features was used for this review. The results of the review show that organizational factors were not identified by maritime accident investigators to the extent expected had the IMO guidelines been observed. Instead, contributing factors at the lower end of organizational echelons are over-represented.