IMO leader says ‘astronomical’ fatality rate must be cut.
Nautilus has backed a call from the International Maritime Organisation’s leader for the seafarer death rate to be halved over the next two years.
Speaking at the opening of the IMO’s first meeting of the year, secretary-general Koji Sekimizu told delegates that his vision to halve the number of lives lost at sea should be a legitimate target for the United Nations agency and for the shipping industry.
‘The current level is over 1,000,’ he pointed out. ‘We should aim at below 500. You may say “One life lost is too many”. I would say, “If one is too many, then 1,000 is astronomical and 500 is still too many”.’
Mr Sekimizu said IMO statistics showed that a total of 1,051 lives were lost at sea during 2012 — of which 100 were in the fishing sector, 400 in domestic operations and 500 in other categories, including international shipping.
Both the annual death rate and the proportions of fatalities in each sector were broadly similar over the past five years, he added, with the IMO data showing 1,095 deaths in 2011, 1,501 in 2010, 2,395 in 2009 and 1,942 in 2008.
But, he admitted, the figures — which are developed on the basis of officially and unofficially reported casualties — are ‘neither accurate nor comprehensive’. The difficulties in obtaining reliable data suggests that the IMO should set up an official system to collect and collate casualty information, he added.
The IMO leader acknowledged that it would be ‘very difficult’ to reach that target of halving lives lost. ‘That requires collective efforts to cover all sectors of maritime activities, covering fishing vessels, domestic and river ferries and international shipping,’ he said.
‘We should employ all available forces and make every effort to reduce casualties and I will take every available step to promote safety in order to achieve this ambitious but achievable target.’
Mr Sekimizu suggested that action to implement measures to improve the safety of fishing vessels and domestic ferries would make a major contribution to reducing fatalities. The IMO was also working with the International Association of Lighthouse Authorities to develop an ‘accident zero’ campaign to improve safety at sea.
Nautilus senior national secretary Allan Graveson, who attended the meeting, commented: The secretary-general is to be commended for a very courageous statement. This is a great aspiration, but unless there are fundamental changes in the safety culture of the industry such a target could take more than a generation to attain.
‘Nautilus is concerned that there are many entrenched and complex problems that need to be tackled if the death toll is to be reduced by this sort of level,’ he added.
‘Analysis of the death and injury statistics show that many incidents should be preventable – such as slips, trips and falls — but concerted attention needs to be paid to fundamental issues such as design, ergonomics and equipment.
‘Similarly, well known problems such as fatigue deserve to be treated much more seriously than they are at present if there is to be any meaningful advance.’
Nautilus Telegraph February 2013