Avoiding accidents and ensuring the safety of on-board personnel represents one of the most complex challenges faced by the maritime industry. A common misunderstanding in the industry has led to a focus on occupational accidents to reduce lost time injuries in the belief that this would also lead to a reduction of major accidents. The complexity related to preventing and mitigating major accidents requires an understanding of the differences in occupational risk compared to major accident risk. An ever increasing complexity in systems and operations calls for increased vigilance with regards to safety. Rather than focusing on individual components, the industry would benefit by embracing a more comprehensive approach to safety, one that establishes effective barriers that prevent or mitigate the impact of accidents. The oil & gas industry has a long experience in handling complex operations and major accident hazards and offshore vessels can document significant lower incident rates than conventional merchant vessels. Introducing the concept of barrier management from the oil & gas industry to the maritime industry can provide the framework this industry needs to better manage major accident hazards.

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