AMSA Proposes New Approach to Fatigue

Shen Neng 1
Shen Neng 1 grounding

By MarEx 2016-02-20 18:16:17

It is now widely accepted that fatigue can no longer be viewed as part of a labor or industrial relations issues but should be part of the ship’s safety management system and overall International Safety Management Code, states Dr Michelle Grech, human factors expert at the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, in a recently published study on seafarer fatigue.

Grech’s study is part of work currently underway to review and update the IMO guidelines on fatigue.

It is evident that despite efforts directed at mitigating the risk of fatigue through the adoption of hours of work and rest regulations and development of codes and guidelines, fatigue still remains a concern in shipping, she says. Lack of fatigue management has been identified as a contributory factor in a number of recent accidents including the 2010 grounding of the bulk carrier Shen Neng 1 in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef in which the “lack of fatigue management processes” was cited as a contributory factor. 

Concerns are further substantiated through recent research reports that highlight shortfalls in current fatigue management approaches, she says. These approaches mainly focus on prescriptive hours of work and rest and include an individualistic approach to managing fatigue. The expectation is that seafarers are responsible for managing and tolerating fatigue as part of their working life at sea. 

Grech supports a risk-based approach and proposes a framework that includes multiple layers of defense and associated control measures:

A. The first layer requires effective company support and commitment for managing and controlling the risks of fatigue;

B. The second layer requires that seafarers are provided with adequate opportunity for sleep. This ensures that both duration and quality of sleep are considered. A fatigue risk management safety assurance provides the data driven feedback (assessment and evaluation) through monitoring, to assure that the fatigue risk management controls are working effectively:

C. The third layer ensures that any issues affecting seafarers’ duration and quality of sleep, even though adequate opportunities for sleep have been provided, are being effectively captured. This entails monitoring and assessing sleep obtained and provides for the implementation of risk mitigation controls when issues are identified;

D. The fourth layer ensures that seafarers obtain what is considered, on average, sufficient sleep and are able to maintain adequate alertness and performance while performing their duties. This entails monitoring and assessing levels of fatigue and fitness for duty;

E. The fifth layer ensures that formal processes are in place for identifying and assessing fatigue related events or incidents. This layer relies on having an effective safety reporting culture.

The report published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is available, courtesy of Intermanager, here.