Managing fatigue on your vessel

Fatigue is one of the hidden risks that can often be difficult to spot in others, or even recognise in ourselves. It’s also a major contributor to accidents.

Fatigue can be caused by many factors, and often a number of factors combine to increase fatigue, to the point where a person may put their own or another person’s safety at risk. As a result, both employers and employees have a role to play in making sure any risks associated with fatigue are minimised.

Evidence (and common sense) suggests that sleep deprivation, sleep disturbance and fatigue are health risks commonly associated with long working hours. Fatigue has also been identified as a potential health risk with work that involves shifts, or regular or periodic night work, and can lead to impaired physical and mental performance, and therefore increases the risk of injury.

Potential risk factors associated with working hours arrangements include, but are not limited to:

  • Number of hours worked, including schedule of work, length of shift, night work, frequency of breaks, seasonal work arrangements
  • Demands of the work tasks, such as repetitive work, physically or mentally demanding work, working conditions
  • Fatigue-critical tasks, including operation of certain plant and/or making critical decisions where there may be significant consequences if errors occur (Eg Person Overboard)
  • Extended exposure to hazards, such as sun, water, noise, temperature and vibration
  • Lack of information and training on fatigue management, health and lifestyle factors, including the importance of sleep and diet
  • Supervision and adequacy of training and experience

You can find a guide to managing fatigue here.

There is also a handy fatigue assessment tool here.