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Project: Design of a safe work environment in the maritime domain

The project analyzes safety and resilience in everyday work in the maritime domain. The aim is to develop methods to visualize and design work environments and safety-related work in an increasingly complex and changing shipping industry. Special focus is on the analysis of sociotechnical systems where interactions take place between people, technology and organization.

Project information

Project manager
Gesa Praetorius
Subject
Maritime Science (Kalmar Maritime Academy, Faculty of Technology)

More about the project

To be able to create a safe work environment for future shipping operations in a world of increased digitalization and complexity, a shift towards new perspectives on safety management and safety training is needed. Up-to-date safety management and training has primarily focused on the analysis of accidents and incidents to identify means and measure on how to increase safety in operations. However, future safety-related work will need to focus more on resilience, i.e. on how strengths in today's systems can be maintained and reinforced. Analyses of socio-technical systems consisting of human operators cooperating with technology and how these can adapt to and cope with a large variety of production conditions and unforeseen events is becoming increasingly important.

Safety and resilience

The project analyzes safety and resilience in everyday work in the maritime domain. The aim of the project is to develop methods to visualize and design work environments and safety-related work in an increasingly complex and changing shipping industry. Special focus is on the analysis of sociotechnical systems and on the evaluation and design of safety drills and training using resilience engineering.

Sociotechnical systems are complex systems where everyday activities and functions depend on interactions and cooperation between people, technology and organization. People's actions in such systems are technology-dependent, i.e. technology plays an important role in decision making, communication and coordination. Resilience is a new perspective applied to evaluate, develop and improve safety management in high risk domain. Instead of solely focusing on learning from negative events, resilience tries to highlight how human operators contribute to safety and how to strengthen the ability of sociotechnical systems – humans in cooperation with technology embedded in an organization- to adapt to both anticipated and unanticipated events in a safe, efficient and effective manner.

In order for safety-related activities to have a desired effect on an organization's operational safety and safety-related activities, it is necessary to understand and anticipate the consequences of change in complex systems. Examples for change can be altering the organization itself, introducing new production methods or novel decision support.

Complexity in everyday work

I am interested in analyzing and visualizing complexity in everyday work and thus gaining an improved understanding of the challenges and opportunities in future of shipping operations. Despite an increased degree of digitalization, shipping operations will always be carried out by sociotechnical systems which must be able to handle a wide variety of production conditions in an increasingly interconnected and complex world. It is therefore important to a thorough understanding on how these systems adapt to and cope with both anticipated and unanticipated events, as well as on how they bounce back from production breakdowns.

The project focuses primarily on safety management on board and ashore with a particular emphasis on training, but also addresses aspects of information and organizational design.

The project is part of the research in the Maritime science research group.

More about Gesa Praetorius' reserach

Learn more about Gesa Praetorius' research in a film made by the Swedish maritime competence centre Lighthouse.