Complexity and Ambivalence in Ship Safety Inspection : The view of Swedish Port state control officers

University dissertation from Växjö : Linnaeus University Press

Abstract: Despite an extensive system of Port state controls (PSC) on ships, inspection loopholes in European control functions have been reported. Furthermore, risk factors associated with fatigue, stress and a poorly developed safety culture on board ships have been identified in earlier research. These combined risk factors may pose a serious threat to maritime safety.With this as a point of departure, this thesis aims to investigate the perceived work situation for Swedish inspectors from an inspector’s point of view concerning professional challenges, status and identity for inspectors and the perceived quality of Paris MoU inspection system and the Swedish inspection organization.In this study, the activities of Swedish PSC inspectors are viewed as a profession and the inspectors are viewed as bureaucrats. One of the principals for bureaucracy is that its servants should exercise their authority according to the common good, be autonomous, rational, reliable and responsible. The results indicate that organizational and management reforms have put the PSC bureaucrat under pressure to become more market oriented. Due to the responsibilities inherent in the profession of inspector within the complex structure of shipping, these organizational and management reforms conflict with the PSC inspector’s autonomy and professional role.Inspectors perceive that their expertise and integrity are vital for the success of their work. They also consider the high degree of control that the Swedish inspection organization exercises on the inspectors’ work as limiting to their autonomy and ability to make professional decisions. Some level of control may fulfil a need of support from the Swedish inspection organization, but too much control hampers the professional self-sufficiency and freedom of action. The inspectors in this study reveal considerable ambivalence towards the quality and complexity of ship safety inspections carried out in Sweden and within the Paris MoU system.

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