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Shipping Fact

Safety and Regulation: Lives Lost at Sea


Shipping is the safest and most environmentally benign form of commercial transport. Perhaps uniquely amongst industries involving physical risk, commitment to safety has long pervaded virtually all deep sea shipping operations. Shipping was amongst the very first industries to adopt widely implemented international safety standards.

Because of its inherently international nature, the safety of shipping is regulated by various United Nations agencies, in particular the International Maritime Organization (IMO) which has developed a comprehensive framework of global maritime safety regulations.

Lives Lost at Sea

As in all transport sectors, lives are sadly lost as a result of accidents at sea. Disappointingly, there has been a rise in fatal accidents in the last two years, although the loss of life in shipping is in fact relatively modest, and the overall trend is one of reduction in the number of fatalities, which is all the more impressive in view of the growth in the number of ships in the world fleet. However, there is of course always room for improvement, and the industry’s goal is for zero fatalities.

The figures below relate to lives lost on cargo ships and cover the entire international industry, which employs over one and a quarter million people, plus many more employed in coastal trades.

graph to show the number of live lost with respect to the increase of trade