“The purpose you undertake is dangerous.”
“Why, that’s certain. ‘Tis dangerous to take a cold, to sleep, to drink;
but I tell you, my lord fool,
out of this nettle, danger, we pluck this flower, safety.”
On a recent work project, I stumbled across a list of eight “key safety areas” for ships. As another “she,” and in an interdisciplinary mood, I started wondering about my own safety performance in these areas.
Performance: Excellent. Structural design is one of two models in widespread use, and proven safe in this family of users for periods exceeding 90 years. A history of structural failures in advanced years in related units is cause for concern.
Trend: Declining. Years of low investment in maintenance on this unit have resulted in reduced structural strength.
Performance: Good. Systems have performed well to date, requiring no surgical or mechanical intervention.
Trend: Declining. Visual, balance, and paying-attention systems are showing signs of wear and tear, resulting in safety concerns on stairs.
Performance: Excellent. No observed tendency to burst into flames under routine, day-to-day operation.
Trend: Declining. Increased tendency to get hot under the collar.
Performance: Excellent (written); adequate (spoken).
Trend: Declining (both). Increased incidence of failing to find the right word, especially under pressure.
Navigation and Seamanship
Performance: Poor. In addition to a regrettable tendency to throw up under conditions of turbulence, inadequate map-reading skills and inability to visualize spatial relationships have resulted in swerves onto freeway exits at speed.
Trend: Declining. Reliance on artificial navigation systems has further atrophied onboard systems.
Performance: Good. Lifelong avoidance of nicotine has improved fire safety scores associated with lit cigarettes; similar avoidance of controlled substances has undoubtedly improved ratings from what otherwise would have been achieved in communications and navigation.
Trend: Declining. Effects from alcohol exposure observed to be higher than in earlier years.
Buoyancy, Stability, and Controllability
Performance: Good. Buoyancy (physical and mental) scores highest of these elements. Stability (mental; see Engineering Systems for performance in physical stability) acts as a mild moderating force, reducing the safety hazards associated with undeniably low scores on controllability.
Trend: Declining. Increasing age observed to be correlated with declining scores on all elements.
Escape, Evacuation, and Rescue
Trend: Unknown, but likely declining. Isn’t everything?