Proceedings Of The Marine

FAL 2012

Proceedings magazine is a communication tool for the Coast Guard's Marine Safety & Security Council. Each quarterly magazine focuses on a specific theme of interest to the marine industry.

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Page 74 of 94

Data was essential to this effort. The Coast Guard compiled a database of nearly 2,700 bridge allision cases involving towing vessels or barges in U.S. waters during the period of 1992 to 2001. Addition- ally, data from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on towing vessel trips served as an essential denomina- tor, showing that bridge allisions were occurring at the rate of approximately 0.06 percent, or six allisions for every 10,000 towing vessel trips. The work group also relied on extensive analy- sis of investigation reports to reach the conclusion that human factors — specifically decision-making errors — are the predominant factors in bridge alli- VLRQV 7KH JURXS HPSKDVL]HG WKDW WKLV ÀQGLQJ GRHV not mean that towing vessel operators are poor deci- sion makers. On the contrary, the fact that the over- whelming majority of bridge transits take place with- out incident — and that most bridge allisions that do occur result in no damage to people, property, or the HQYLURQPHQW ³ WHVWLÀHV WR WKH VNLOO DQG SURIHVVLRQDO- LVP RI WRZLQJ YHVVHO RSHUDWRUV ZKR GR D GLIÀFXOW MRE under challenging conditions, with very little margin for error.) The data also revealed that many factors contribute to human factor-based errors, suggesting the need for a multi-faceted approach to prevention rather than narrow focus on a single solution. Analysis of this extensive data set helped the work group to identify those bridges that posed the most serious safety challenges, to draw conclusions about the causes of bridge allisions, and to target recom- mendations for preventive measures. Recommendations For example, the work group found that more than one-third of all bridge allisions between 1992 and RFFXUUHG DW EULGJHV DOUHDG\ LGHQWLÀHG DV REVWUXF- tions to navigation under the Truman-Hobbs Act, and under order to be altered or on the Truman-Hobbs backlog priority list. The work group thus recommended that the Coast Guard and AWO work together to accelerate removal and alteration of obstructive bridges under the author- ity and procedures of the Truman-Hobbs Act. Towing Safety Advisory Committee Working Groups Data played a similarly important role in focusing the work of the Towing Safety Advisory Committee's tow- ing vessel inspection working group, formed in 2004 to provide advice to the Coast Guard on developing regulations for towing vessel inspection as required 72 Proceedings Fall 2012 by the 2004 Coast Guard and Maritime Transporta- tion Act.1 The Coast Guard directed the Towing Safety Advi- sory Committee to take a risk-based approach to developing recommendations for a new towing vessel inspection regime. Accordingly, the working group established a risk-based decision making subgroup that analyzed towing vessel casualty data from 1994 WR HPSOR\LQJ D FODVVLF GHÀQLWLRQ RI ULVN DV IUH- quency multiplied by severity, and a risk-based rule- making that prioritizes addressing situations that are high frequency and high severity over those that are low frequency/low severity. Results The subgroup's highly analytical data-driven process provided a solid factual foundation for the working group's recommendations to the Coast Guard, mak- ing it easier for the diverse membership to reach con- sensus on recommendations ranging from the impor- tance of safety management systems to equipment requirements for existing towing vessels. Basing recommendations for corrective or preventive action on data increases the likelihood that those rec- ommendations will be accepted and adopted by their intended audience, because the basis for those rec- ommendations is transparent. The experience of the Coast Guard-AWO safety partnership bears this out. For example, the data-driven recommendations of the quality action team on towing vessel crew fatali- ties and the bridge allision work group prompted the AWO membership to amend the AWO respon- sible carrier program (a safety management sys- tem that is a requirement for AWO membership) to include requirements for fall-overboard prevention and bridge transit procedures. For its part, the Coast Guard drew heavily on the recommendations of the Towing Safety Advisory Committee's towing vessel inspection working group in developing proposed regulations for towing vessel inspection, published as a notice of proposed rulemaking in August 2011. Lessons for the Future The experience of the Coast Guard and the tugboat, towboat, and barge industry for nearly two decades of collaborative effort to improve safety, security, and environmental stewardship demonstrates clearly the importance of data in targeting safety problems for collective action and developing effective and durable safety solutions. As we continue our joint efforts to

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