Developing a Value Proposition of Maritime Ergonomics

University dissertation from Chalmers University of Technology

Abstract: There is a large body of knowledge available on the importance of ergonomics for successful (and unsuccessful) systems. Domain specific handbooks, guidelines and standards can be found also for the maritime industry. Yet, the deteriorating figure of maritime casualties and the high incidence of occupational accidents suggest this knowledge is not utilised to its full potential. Emphasis in this thesis was given to the knowledge base of ergonomics in vessel design and operation. Specifically, the aim was to develop a value proposition of maritime ergonomics, positioning the potential core values of ergonomics that can be delivered to stakeholders within and outside the maritime transport system. This project has therefore taken an exploratory qualitative approach. Seven studies have been performed, structured around three themes: maritime ergonomics, the effects of maritime ergonomics on operational performance, and the development and transfer of ergonomics knowledge. The methods used were mainly literature studies, individual and focus group interviews, observation and case study. The results of the studies show a link between ergonomics and the value creating process in the maritime transport system. The developed value proposition describes the value for the employee in terms of improved health and well-being, learning, performance, skill discretion and independence in life. Values for the company include increased operational performance and flexibility, advantages in recruiting and retaining personnel and organizational learning. Values for the sector include competitive strength, attractiveness of work and increased organizational learning across the industry. Values for the society include reduced costs for health care and social security, reduced environmental impact, and a sustainable working life. To conclude, these results can be seen as a first step to make visible the effects of ergonomics management on overall systems performance in the maritime domain. Suggestions for further work include complementary studies to investigate the feasibility in early crew participation and incorporating ergonomics methods and techniques in the toolboxes of naval architects and other system builders.