Tag: cause

Martin & Ottaway has been involved in dozens of capsize investigations. Capsizes are strange events because the cause of a capsize can be difficult to determine.

 

There may be clear incidents of negligence with regard to capsizes, but, in our experience, about half of the world's capsizes strike like lightning on a clear day, and are totally unexpected. Then the analysis and cause determination becomes quite complex and often tracks back far in time.

 

Often there is fingerpointing, but it often loses track of the actual cause of the incident. One such incident that we worked on was the Ethan Allen in 2005 on Lake George.

 

The vessel capsized in mostly normal operating conditions with passengers aboard and loss of life. The analysis indicated that there were a number of factors at work which, together, interlinked to result in the subject incident and there was a red herring.

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Causal analysis is a surprisingly complex process that over the years has been subject to push and pulls from a wide variety of professional influences. When determining the actual cause of an accident or an incident, any number of stake holders would like to address the issue that “caused” the accident, whether to prevent a reoccurrence or, on the other side of the remedial spectrum, to punish the causal party.

 

In theory, there must be a cause for everything, but, in practice, finding the cause often involves a high level of judgment, and judgment is complicated and often deeply flawed. If judgment were to reside in one professional community, there is a possibility that some type of convergence on the determination of the cause of an incident could be developed. And once the cause is established, we can give that cause a name. It apparently is too simple to simply call it “the cause” of an incident, and that makes sense, since all too often there are multiple causes of an incident.  And because there can be multiple causes, different terms for causes have started to emerge.

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