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Bridge alarm systems are failing, causing 'alarm fatigue,' survey shows

INTERMANAGER is urging manufacturers to cooperate with ship operators and crew representatives to develop better ways of communicating bridge warnings

Bridge alarm systems are failing, causing 'alarm fatigue,' survey shows

INTERMANAGER is urging manufacturers to cooperate with ship operators and crew representatives to develop better ways of communicating bridge warnings

15 July 2019 - 19:00

INTERMANAGER is urging manufacturers to cooperate with ship operators and crew representatives to develop better ways of communicating bridge warnings.

This comes after a survey of seafarers found that frequently sounding bridge warnings, especially false ones, can create 'alarm fatigue' and hinder watchkeepers in performing their duties.



Respondents said there ere too many similar sounding alarms and spoke of the need for easily identifiable urgent warnings could be distinguished from simple notification bells.



The findings were released by insurers P&I Club, Shipowners Club, which conducted the poll in conjunction with the Department of Psychology at Royal Holloway, University of London, ISWAN and InterManager.



The key findings include: 89 per cent of participants thought false alarms were a problem; 66 per cent said the alarms were not easily detectable; 57 per cent of respondents disagreed that alarms are graded by sound; and 50 per cent of participants reported some frustration with the format of the alarms themselves.



Of particular concern was the fact that sounds are frequently the same tone for all alarms with no distinguishing factors between alarm systems.



Some 77 per cent of crew do not want to be disturbed from their watch keeping duties; and 24 per cent of participants reported that they never or seldom engaged the 'bridge navigational watch alarm system' due to their concerns at frequent false alarms.



Another factor that emerged from the answers was the crew's readiness to silence alarms without investigation due to 'alarm fatigue' caused by repeated alarm soundings for no apparent reason. Some 45 per cent of the respondents agreed that frequent alarms are often silenced. ?



'Fifty per cent of our seafarers are frustrated by frequent alarms. Seventy-seven per cent want alarms to be useful alarms and not a nuisance. In my opinion, quite rightly they expect alarms to be useful and effective,' said InterManager secretary general Kuba Szymanski.



'It is important that we take a human-centric approach to this and find solutions that benefit our crews in the workplace rather than hinder them when carrying out vital tasks,' Capt Szymanski said.



Said Shipowners' Club: 'It is evident from the feedback of these seafarers that the current regulations and arrangements relating to bridge alarm monitoring and systems can be improved upon, which will allow for crew to fully utilise the benefits of the technology being made available to them.'


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