Risk analysis methods gain more and more acceptance as decision support tools to analyze and reduce risks in engineering applications. Integration of these techniques leads to more reliable and realistic solutions. This paper proposes an integrated methodology to identify and evaluate driving factors like geographical locations at the time of the incident and failure modes causing fatality for cargo ships. The authors aim to develop a risk method for cleaner and safer maritime transport at coast and open seas of Turkey. The formal safety assessment (FSA) based approach combines fuzzy set theory (FST), ordered weighted geometric averaging operator (OWGA) and decision making trial and evaluation laboratory technique (DEMATEL). A case study is carried out to determine the most common causes of unintentional damages on cargo ships at coasts and open seas of Turkey. Finally, some conclusions and suggestions are drawn concerning the needs to reduce the risks and improve certain safety measures. (C) 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.