MAIB Suspends Publication of Safety Digest

Safety Digest issue number 2 of 2010, due to be published on 1 August, has been postponed until further notice.

The Marine Accident Investigation Board (MAIB) blamed the actions of the media for their decisions and issued a statement that said:
“Over the past 8 years, in a spirit of mutual co-operation on safety matters, there has been an understanding by which the media has respected the need not to identify individuals or organisations in the MAIB’s Safety Digest.

Unfortunately, despite entreaties, one newspaper decided to try to identify ships and companies referred to, but not named, in the Chief Inspector’s introduction to the last Safety Digest.  It then ‘named and shamed’ the companies that the paper thought were involved, regardless of the safety consequences of so doing.

The editor justified his actions by stating that “our job as the press is to shed light where public officials are unable or unwilling to do so.  Having put the facts into public record, you cannot in a free society control how the press pursues the exposure of those facts.” 

In these circumstances the MAIB has to assume that anyone written about in a Safety Digest could in future be named in the press.  The MAIB has a legal obligation, laid down in its Regulations, to consult with any “person who, or organisation which, could be adversely affected by the report”, and to take into account any representations made.  Therefore, unless the MAIB can find a novel means of ensuring that the subjects of the Safety Digest remain anonymous, there appears to be no option but to undertake a major consultation exercise on each case in future Safety Digests.  

The increased resource implications and inevitable diminution of the key safety messages this process will cause, may make future publication of the Safety Digest unsustainable.”

The MAIB apologised for the loss of an invaluable safety tool, and are attempting to find a way to resolve the predicament.