New calls for IMO to tackle fatigue

Presenting the Martha Project findings at the IMO are, left to right: Michelle Grech, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority; Professor Mike Barnett, Southampton Solent University; and Captain Kuba Szymanski, secretary general of InterManager Picture: Southampton Solent University

Nautilus has welcomed powerful new academic research calling for the maritime industry to wake up to the dangers of fatigue among seafarers.

The US$3m Martha project examined the long-term effects of fatigue and sleepiness at sea. It found that fatigue can result in continuing physical and mental health issues, and that both the quality and quantity of sleep and individual motivation decreases over the length of a voyage.

The three-year study was carried out by researchers from universities in the UK, Denmark, Sweden and China, with US$1.5m funded by the TK Foundation. It was presented to delegates at the International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) human element, training and watchkeeping (HTW) committee. Nautilus took part in an HTW committee working group tasked with the revision and updating of the IMO’s fatigue guidelines.

The Martha study drew on data gathered from almost 1,000 seafarers and detailed analysis of records of fatigue levels, sleep patterns and the psychological wellbeing of more than 100 crew members gathered during the course of voyages around the world. It also showed that night watchkeepers get significantly less total sleep than others onboard and masters suffer more stress and fatigue than their crews.

The Karolinksa Sleepiness Scale

Nautilus professional and technical officer David Appleton represented the International Federation of Ship Masters’ Associations on the HTW working group. He said while some progress had been made on revising the IMO guidelines a number of contentious issues had emerged.

He had argued strongly – and successfully – against shipowner proposals to remove wording on seafarers’ ‘excessive’ working hours on the basis that the quoted figures of 12 hours a day were not normal.

There was also intense debate on research findings which defined work over 60 hours a week as ‘excessive’. A decision on whether this will be included in the final paper is likely to be made at the next working group meeting.

The Martha study followed on from the EU-funded Project Horizon sleepiness study on cognitive performance — which the Union took part in along with 11 other industry and academic partners, and led to the development of a fatigue measuring toolkit.

Read more about the Martha project results in the March edition of the Telegraph.

 

Top image: Pictured presenting the Martha Project findings at the IMO are, left to right: Michelle Grech, from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority; Professor Mike Barnett, from Southampton Solent University; and Captain Kuba Szymanski, secretary general of InterManager. Photo: Solent Southampton University. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

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