New ABS Study Points to Need for Better Injury Reporting

A U.S. Coast Guard aircrew medevacs an injured Taiwanese mariner from the container ship YM Eminence, February 2018 (USCG file image)

Published Dec 16, 2019 5:21 PM by The Maritime Executive

After completing a comprehensive joint study on shipboard injuries, the American Club, Lamar University and ABS say that the maritime industry should adopt more comprehensive reporting requirements for injury and near miss reporting.

The call follows an industry-wide project analyzing more than 12,000 injury records with a financial cost of nearly $250 million, an additional 100,000 near miss reports from ABS and Lamar Mariner Safety Research Initiative (MSRI), and nearly a decade of insurance data from the American Club.

The team says that their research offers unprecedented insight into the nature of accidents at sea. However, inconsistent and incomplete data posed a challenge during analysis, and the partners are urging the industry to adopt a comprehensive new standard for maritime injury reporting.

“Nothing is more important to ABS than the safety of the men and women working at sea. This project offers a deeper insight into how and where seafarers are being injured and also highlights what industry can do to take our understanding of safety to the next level,” said Christopher J. Wiernicki, ABS chairman, president and CEO.

The research reveals how injuries sustained while lifting or in slips, trips and falls are the most frequent incidents at sea, with more than 1,300 incidents in this study’s dataset. According to the American Club data, these incidents cost in excess of $85 million for the six-year period studied. The average cost per incident exceeds $65,000. Lifting incidents averaged $48,000, falls and trips averaged $88,000, and slips averaged $56,000. When breaking down the results by anatomical location, the two most costly locations of injury were the head and neck, averaging just over $100,000 per incident, followed by the back and torso at $66,000.

“This industry, academic, and class partnership provided valuable insight into the financial impact of injuries across the maritime industry. This is another tool to help provide better solutions to help prevent the occurrence and reoccurrence of maritime injuries. We all believe that this partnership will help improve the welfare of the maritime industry’s most valuable asset: its seafarers,” said Dr. Brian Craig, the dean of engineering and co-director of the Mariner Safety Research Initiative at Lamar University.