European watchkeeping fatigue study provides toolkit for management
RESEARCHERS have developed a seafarers' fatigue management toolkit (Fatigue Risk Management System) for use by shipowners, ship managers, seafarers and regulators arising from Project Horizon, a 32-month, 11-partner European on watchkeeping at sea. Thursday, 09.Feb.2012, 02:27 (GMT+3)
RESEARCHERS have developed a seafarers' fatigue management toolkit (Fatigue Risk Management System) for use by shipowners, ship managers, seafarers and regulators arising from Project Horizon, a 32-month, 11-partner European on watchkeeping at sea.
The aim of the toolkit is to arrange working schedules to mitigate risks to ships and their cargo and seafarers and the marine environment, reports London's TankerOperator.
"Seafarer fatigue is one of the biggest safety issues in the shipping industry and this research has taken our understanding of the way in which the quality of sleep off-watch affects the sleepiness of watchkeepers on watch to a new and much deeper level," said project co-ordinator Graham Clarke.
"It is hoped that the fatigue management toolkit will be a lasting legacy for the sector, providing a resource that, by establishing improved working patterns, will help to enhance the safety of ships and passengers and the welfare of seafarers," he said.
Project Horizon was partly funded by the EU, that brought academic institutions and shipping industry organisations together, with specialist input from some world-leading transport and stress research experts.
The project made use of bridge, engine room and cargo simulators to assess scientifically the impact of fatigue in realistic seagoing scenarios.
The main scenario involved a simulated two round trips between Fawley, near Portsmouth across the heavily trafficked English Channel to Rotterdam on a 40,000 dwt tanker loaded with two grades of cargo one way and returning in ballast. The two 'voyages' lasted for seven days.
A total of 90 certificated deck and engineer officer volunteers with tanker experience participated in rigorous tests at the Gothenburg Chalmers University of Technology and at Warsash Maritime Academy, part of Southampton Solent University, to measure their levels of sleepiness and performance during the most common watchkeeping patterns - four hours on/eight hours off (4/8) and six hours on/six hours off (6/6).
Some of those taking part in Gothenburg were also exposed to a 'disturbed' off-watch period, reflecting the way in which seafarers may experience additional workloads, as a result of port visits, bad weather, or emergencies.
The project provided detailed empirical data on watchkeepers' sleepiness levels working within realistic scenarios, enabling researchers to analyse the impact of sleepiness on decision-making, reaction times and other key performance elements.