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PhD Studentship - Improving Ship Safety through closing the design loop

School of Engineering

Location:  Highfield Campus
Closing Date:  Monday 31 August 2020
Reference:  1243520DA

Supervisor:                 Dominic Hudson, Dominic Taunton (Maritime Engineering)

Project description

Despite increased training of ship’s crew there are still a significant number of accidents and incidents. Is this because despite the training, the equipment has poor usability? This poor usability results in the crew having to adapt their use from the intended use in order to perform their tasks. Any resulting incidents or accidents will often identify the improper use of the equipment as a training issue. This project will analyse accident reports and near miss reports to identify the most common tasks and work areas for more detailed investigation. Through either observation by trained occupational therapists or monitoring via commercially available wearable technologies and cameras, this project will determine how the crew are using the equipment on board the ship in order to perform their tasks. Determine if the equipment is being used as designed or if the equipment does not meet accepted standards. Equipment could include access ways, hatches, stairs and ladders in addition to navigation and control equipment. The approach can be applied to any vessel type, but those ships or ship types which have more incident data available will be more suitable.

A review of 128 RAM 3, 4 & 5 incidents for STASCO [1] showed that knowledge, skills and abilities was the second largest cause of these incidents, whereas design flaws was ranked 7th, see figure 1. However, it is possible that many of the incidents attributed to knowledge, skills and abilities are in fact poor design and usability and peoples attempts to adapt the use of the equipment (correct design flaws) is incorrectly classified under knowledge, skills and abilities.

Deliverables 1) A review of the equipment, tasks and work areas most likely to have poor usability. (Y1) 2) An improved reporting process which will capture the usability issues. (Y1) 3) Recommendations for replacement or changes to training for those high risk items of equipment, tasks and work areas. (Y2 4) Training package for Ships Bosuns (as the person usually responsible for equipment and training on board) in usability feedback, so toolbox talks could include discussing concerns over usability and the associated risks. (Y3)

Key-skills: ship design, human factors

Entry Requirements

A very good undergraduate degree (at least a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent).

Closing date: applications should be received no later than 31 August 2020 for standard admissions, but later applications may be considered depending on the funds remaining in place.

Funding: full tuition fees for EU/UK students plus for UK students, an enhanced stipend of £15,009 tax-free per annum for up to 3.5 years. 

How To Apply

Applications should be made online here selecting “PhD Eng & Env (Full time)” as the programme. Please enter Dominic Hudson under the proposed supervisor.

Applications should include

Research Proposal

Curriculum Vitae

Two reference letters

Degree Transcripts to date

Apply online:

For further information please contact: 

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