Take 10: Issue 30

01 Jun 2022 The Navigator

Fatigue is one of the most dangerous threats to a navigator onboard ship. Here are ten points to help you manage your levels of tiredness and fatigue

1 Understanding fatigue

Fatigue is a state of physical and/or mental impairment that can reduce the ability to operate a ship safely.

2 Fatigue by design

By their very nature, ships and ship operations have a high risk of inducing tiredness and fatigue, with causes including ship design, onboard tasks and the motion of the seas.

3 An ongoing concern

Long-term fatigue can lead to physical and mental health problems; left unchecked, it is not just a short-lived problem.

4 Risk management

Tiredness and fatigue can be managed. The risks cannot always be removed, but there will be ways to mitigate them.

5 Counting hours

Hours of work and rest are important, but tiredness and fatigue management go beyond just recording hours.

6 Fighting fatigue from shore

Ship owners and managers must ‘own’ fatigue and tiredness management. This can be done through ship design, crewing levels, workload, food provision, exercise facilities, sleeping arrangements and training the crew about dangers and mitigation.

7 Know the signs

Mariners must be aware of how to recognise fatigue in themselves and others. Manage time as best as possible, adjust watches when necessary, get support if needed, keep accurate accounts of work and rest and notify the DPA if required.

8 Monitor mental health

Not only can fatigue lead to physical health issues, but also mental stress. Issues such as relationship problems, either onboard or with family/friends, can also lead to mental fatigue. Be sensitive to this in yourself and others.

9 Knowledge is power

The IMO has published guidelines on fatigue that relate to ships and seafarers. There is also a wealth of information on the internet from both maritime and non-maritime sources.

10 Share and share alike

No-one is immune to tiredness and fatigue, so discuss these issues with the whole crew and watch out for each other. A poor decision made by one person can affect everyone!

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