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AMSA Releases Fatigue Guidelines

file photo courtesy of Diamantino Rosa
file photo courtesy of Diamantino Rosa

By The Maritime Executive 03-04-2020 05:09:05

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has released a practical set of guidelines for reducing the risk of fatigue at sea.

Research has identified fatigue as the primary cause in more than 11 percent of collisions at sea, with the actual percentage likely to be higher due to under-reporting. One of the most infamous incidents in Australian waters was the grounding of the bulk carrier Shen Neng 1 on Douglas Shoal about 90 kilometers from the Port of Gladstone in Queensland, in April 2010.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau investigation found that a lack of fatigue management processes onboard the ship contributed to the grounding, with the chief mate having only slept 2.5 hours in the 38.5 hours prior to the incident.

AMSA’s fatigue guidelines provide practical tools to identify fatigue at sea, report on it effectively and manage the operational risks. They are based on the IMO Guidelines on Fatigue (MSC.1/Circ. 1598.) and should be considered when:

•   developing, implementing and improving safety management systems under the ISM Code
•   promoting fatigue management
•   promoting awareness of the causes and consequences of fatigue and developing and delivering training programs and courses
•   conducting incident investigations
•   preparing applications for minimum safe manning documents or when determining minimum safe manning levels for ships.

AMSA Manager of Vessel Operations Dr. Michelle Grech said the demanding nature of shipping meant that seafarers were often required to work long or irregular hours, in unpredictable and changing weather conditions, with little to no clear separation between work and rest. “In 2018 we completed the first major study into safety culture in the maritime industry in Australia, and we found that about 20 percent of seafarers surveyed reported experiencing chronic fatigue.

“Shipping companies need to take a holistic approach to managing and reducing the risk of fatigue for their seafarers – that was a key recommendation which came out of our study which now underpins these fatigue guidelines,” she said. “Ships need to be adequately manned and resourced, accommodation quarters need to be designed in a way that promotes quality sleep, and shift work scheduling needs to take into account circadian rhythms – typical peaks and troughs for energy levels in people over a 24 hour period.

“There’s much more that shipping companies can be doing to improve the way they manage seafarer fatigue, and the whole shipping industry stands to benefit from those improvements.”

The guidelines are available here.