How Seafarers can Overcome Fatigue ?

by OldSailor on May 7, 2008


seafarers fatigue

BBC reports fatigue among seafarers as a reason for accidents and near misses at sea. DNV study says 51% of marine accidents are caused by only 25% of all the ships worldwide. One of the reasons for these accidents is fatigue experienced by seafarers.

What is fatigue ?

Fatigue is experienced by us as physical fatigue and mental fatigue. Early stages of fatigue lead to loss of productivity whereas advanced stages of fatigue lead to accidents within the ship or cause groundings, collisions even to the extent of sinking of ships.

Signs of a seafarer suffering from fatigue.

  • looking dull with frequent yawns
  • half closed eyes
  • loss of concentration in work
  • unable to listen, understand and act
  • non synchronization of body and mind

What causes fatigue to seafarers ?

  • insufficient sleep or disturbed sleep
    • not getting time to sleep
    • often called up from sleep to attend emergencies
    • due to health disorder
  • external factors like noise, vibration, heat, inadequate ventilation, poor living conditions in the ship
  • physical and mental stress due to high job demand
  • prolonged deployment at sea
  • adverse weather conditions, seasickness
  • prolonged working everyday for more than 12 hours a day

Why is it necessary to overcome fatigue ?

Prolonged fatigue leads to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) where treatment and recovery is complex. Here is a video clip about CFS.

How to eliminate fatigue of seafarers ?

Let us first analyze marine accidents some more in details.

  • ships in which most of the accidents take place are more than 15 years old
    • because of unreliable machinery there are more machinery failure. Seafarers in these ships have to work more to keep the ships seagoing that causes fatigue in seafarers.
    • because of poor living conditions seafarers are subjected to fatigue.
  • most of the accidents taking place are in the ships owned by small shipping companies
    • small shipping companies want to maximize their profits by reducing expenses by means of placing less seafarers in poorly maintained ships. The seafarers are subjected to fatigue in these ships.
  • most of the accidents are caused by human error
    • mostly due to fatigue of seafarers

Now it is clear that the onus of removing fatigue from the seafarers lies with shipping companies and ship owners. They must phase out old ships and follow proactive safety policy in ships.

Seafarers if they have to overcome fatigue,

  • have to select the right shipping company
  • have to select right ships
  • change their lifestyle to face both physical and mental fatigue by means of physical exercises, meditation, yoga etc.,

Is there any other way ? What are your views ?

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