After The Dolgorae- The Sewol Ferry Disaster Revisited, A Risk Management Nightmare
How a lapse in enforcing risk management processes once again resulted in a disaster....
The latest maritime disaster in Korea once again not only raises the spectre of the Sewol disaster but once again reinforces the fact that risk management processes including compliance training must be vigorously implemented and reinforced on a daily basis.
Recently, a fishing boat ( Dolgorae) off the coast of Jeju Island in Korea capsized resulting in the deaths of at least 18 people. It was caused by a culmination of events leading up to the disaster similar to the Sewol Ferry. The facts appear to be as follows: On September 5 a fishing boat carrying at least 22 people capsized off of Chuja Island. Apparently more people were on the boat than should have been allowed. The boat allegedly capsized because of high waves. The captain either failed to radio for help or the radio on the boat did not work. When the Chuja Safety Center received a distress call from another boat which indicated the Dolgorae had not responded to its call, the Chuja Safety Center began calling passengers based on the passenger list. By then it was already too late, as the majority of passengers that died were not wearing life jackets when the boat capsized, according to the few passengers that were ultimately rescued. Because more people were on the boat than indicated by the passenger list, because the captain’s radio did not work after the boat capsized, because the captain went out in questionable weather, because the majority of passengers were not wearing life jackets when the boat capsized and because other safety regulations were not met-not only did the boat capsize but many died that may have lived had adequate risk management processes been followed. This raises the shadow of to the Sewol Ferry disaster..
Remember- On April 16, the Sewol Ferry left Incheon heading to Cheju Island. Most of the 476 passengers were high school students going on a school trip. At 8:52 am , a high school student on board the Sewol issued a distress call. At 8:58 am the Sewol Ferry finally issued a distress call ( though not though the normal distress channel) on its own. At 9:00 am to 9:30 am the Crew issues announcements to the passengers to stay put. The Jindo VTS informs the Captain that he needs to make a decision to evacuate the vessel or not. At 9:32 am the first Coast Guard vessel arrives at the scene. By 10:39, the Sewol Ferry sinks leaving more than 300 people trapped inside the vessel.
When looking at incidents involving disasters such as the Sewol Ferry, it becomes apparent that most disasters are a result of a risk management mistakes, such as not following safety procedures or not repairing critical equipment on time, etc.
Here are some of the risk management mistakes of the Sewol Ferry disaster that stand out:
It is obvious, that the Sewol Ferry or the Dolgorae are extreme examples of a risk management failure. But it is a reminder that companies as well as individuals that decide to skirt burdensome risk related processes designed to minimize the exposure of risk may be flirting with disaster. This is reminder to all companies and individuals involved in safety related occupations as well as companies in heavily regulated industries that not only should risk management processes be implemented but that such processes need to be reinforced on a daily basis. The world may not be kind. Mother Nature may be capricous. Control and manage the risks that you can. There is no room for failure.