VENLYS moves from Safety-I to Safety-II and offers solutions on Non-Technical Skills for the maritime domain.


The importance of human factor in the maritime domain.


Safety research in high risk industries has been focused for decades on what safety is and why accidents do happen. When things go wrong the consequences can vary from simple failures to significant damages even catastrophes (reaching up to the so called black swans).


Comprehensive safety research in the maritime industry has revealed the inability of humans to cope efficiently with routine and emergency situations. Although safety drills are conducted with excellence; in real emergency situations nothing seems to work as designed and successfully tested during safety drills. From the accident of the Titanic to that of Costa Concordia seafarers are apt to behave in critical situations with the same or similar (wrong) mental models.

Latest as the technical reliability of equipment has significantly improved; a continuously increasing number of accidents and incidents are clearly and directly related to human factors.

To this end, human factor is the primal contributing cause for marine accidents with a percentage reaching more than 80% of all contributing factors. According to the traditional safety approach (i.e. Safety-I), safety is the absence of accidents and is defined as a state where ‘as few things as possible go wrong’. However, nowadays the challenge in safety analysis has focused on ensuring ‘as many things as possible go right’; this perspective refers to the system’s ability to withstand and succeed under all situations and is currently termed as Safety-II. In effect, humans are now the necessary resource to achieve adequate system flexibility and go up to resilience. These benefits can be obtained through dedicated Crew Resources Management (CRM) training programs. These programs serve as both defence against human error, and an effective way of enhancing Non-Technical Skills (NTS) of seafarers.


But what are really the Non-Technical Skills?


Non-Technical Skills (NTS) reflect the cognitive, interpersonal and personal skills that complement seafarers’ technical skills towards effective and safe

maritime operations. That said, NTS are not new or mysterious skills but they are essentially what the best seafarers do in order to achieve consistently high performance. In effect, NTS cover/include what a mariner achieves in a ‘good day’; however the actual question is whether we can accept a ‘bad day’ from a professional onboard a vessel with regards to the respective consequences on safety, property and the marine and littoral environment.

CRM skills of seafarers provide countermeasures against risk and human error in the form of threat and error avoidance, detection, and subsequently management.


Is it possible to identify and evaluate NTS?


While identifying and promoting relevant and applicable NTS is crucial to safety, assessing the skills is of equal importance. Assessment of NTS is the process of observing, recording, interpreting and evaluating seafarer’s performance and knowledge against a required standard in the context of overall performance.

Acknowledgment of the need to assess and train NTS capabilities is growing continuously worldwide in an increasing number of safety-critical domains; hence these activities must be based on properly developed frameworks and methods. Many techniques have been proposed in safety-critical industries to capture NTS; the most effective one for assessing and evaluating NTS skills is through the combination of using a behavioural marker system and an attitude questionnaire.

A prototype behavioural marker system and a comprehensive attitude questionnaire have been adapted by VENLYS using contemporary human factors and statistical research techniques. To this end, maritime companies can use this system and measure the NTS of their staff (onshore and onboard, existing and new) in an efficient and reliable manner.


The assessment combined tool captures seven skills categories:

  • Situational awareness;

  • Decision making;

  • Leadership;

  • Teamwork;

  • Communication;

  • Managing stress;

  • Coping with fatigue. 


This skill-based safety approach can reflect the magnitude of each of the examined NTS in relation to safe and efficient task performance. Each NTS is accompanied by associated behavioural markers that can be monitored by VENLYS team.


The seafarers of interest are rated regarding their behaviours for example, either in their real working environment or in simulators with the development of specific scenarios (live or video streaming may be two of our proposals). This method can estimate with high levels of validity and accuracy the specific NTS that seem to affect considerably ship’s safety and subsequently the protection of the environment.  This method can be even more accurate if it is supplemented via interviews to provide stronger explanations of the recorded patterns of the NTS of interest to our clients.

What is the target group for the NTS measurement?

The proposed service mainly addresses all on board personnel and especially maritime officers. However, in the context of a complete Behavioural Based Safety (BBS) system this measurement can be (and probably should be) expanded and not limited to all safety critical staff on board and on shore including managers – HR personnel, operational safety personnel, trainers and recruitment staff; always fostering the commitment to the development of a corporate safety culture.



VENLYS steps in and provides solutions on NTS for the maritime and offshore industries.

VENLYS has designed a number of services and related guidance to support the industries of interest to take advantage of our presented NTS framework. Indicatively, the following is a shopping list of the provided NTS related ‘products’ by VENLYS:

  • Identifying and assessing NTS based on VenLyS diagnostic tools and methods – this can identify training needs and therefore lead to the development and conduction of tailor made;

  • Benchmarking of  NTS metrics for existing or new coming staff;

  • Train-the-trainer courses to support trainers effectively impart their technical knowledge to trainees;

  • Holistic guidance in maritime companies on how to incorporate NTS related issues into their Integrated Management System (IMS).

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