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PostHeaderIcon ... Casualties of the marine industry


As part of the safety content of this web site I'll focus on some major accidents that have essentially changed the way the industry operates. The Exxon Valdez comes to mind as it was the main reason we've been introduced to OPA 90 regulations, and contributed significantly to STCW implementation as well. This is only a short preamble to the articles ahead, but one thing we all need to focus on is, that safe working environment can only be made such, if all parties involved fully understand the meaning of a safe operation.  It's a learning process that unfortunately has often been misconstrued.

  • broken_ship_at_sea
  • exxon_valdez
  • on_the_rocks

As incidents amassed, the marine industry started looking deeper into the underlying causes. Soon enough consensus was reached on the need to minimise human error, which in turn was attributed to two main causes:

  • fatigue &
  • inadequate training

What followed could have been easily predicted: cut back on working hours and implementation of various training schemes. Both good things, but as we've been focusing on mariner's "diplomas", we've lost track on the big picture. We may have slowed down some type of casualties, yet we've been unable to drive the safe thinking into popular minds.

Here is an example: it is a rather common matter these days, that cell phones are not allowed on a deck of a tanker. The fact that virtually everyone involved must know about it should go uncontested. Yet, time and again, there is always someone who's going to do it, or try it. Now, how is this possible, provided our approach works, that after being reminded time and again, the idea of cell phone's dangers on tanker's deck does not sink in? Have we gone sideways on this?

Last Updated (Sunday, 04 October 2009 21:51)

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PostHeaderIcon ... Where does NTSB stand on the fatigue issue


Here is an interesting finding on the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) web site.

... The Safety Board has long been concerned about the issue of operator fatigue in transportation and has stressed its concerns in investigation reports issued throughout the 1970s and 1980s.  In 1989, the Board issued three recommendations to the Secretary of Transportation calling for research, education, and revisions to existing regulations.  These recommendations were added to the Board’s Most Wanted List in 1990, and the issue of fatigue has remained on the Most Wanted List since then.  The Safety Board’s 1999 safety study of DOT efforts to address operator fatigue continued to show that this problem was widespread.  Operating a vehicle without the operator’s having adequate rest, in any mode of transportation, presents an unnecessary risk to the traveling public.

Safety Board recommendations on the issue of human fatigue and hours-of-work policies have had a substantial effect on encouraging the modal agencies to conduct research and take actions towards understanding the complex problem of operator fatigue in transportation and how it can affect operator performance ...

It further reads:

Last Updated (Friday, 09 October 2009 02:40)

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PostHeaderIcon ... Fatigue reviewed


Fatigue has long been a problem in the marine industry, but hit all time highs once ship owners starting cutting operational costs by minimizing crewing to absolute required minimums. Data on fatigue vs. accidents is being compiled now regularly and a lot of time has been invested into finding the better way of dealing with this problem. The so called STCW work hours have been introduced, actual work hours are being monitored and recorded, new guidelines on fatigue are being issued etc. Everyone should have by now a pretty good grasp of the problem and its impact on the safe working environment. In many ways all of the above must be considered an important and positive development. In future articles I will delve into anti-fatigue programs as implemented by various maritime nations.

Here is a set of great posters from Maritme New Zealand. These relate specifically to fatigue and give an easy to understand overview of the day sleep drivers and cycles and how they can affect even the strongest of us. Posters in order to be effective in conveying a message must be accurate, concise and not the least of all - eye catching.

Click on each image to enlarge

  • wheelhouse_fatigue_checklist
  • MNZ_safety_risk
  • MNZ_biological_sleep_drivers_1
  • MNZ_biological_sleep_drivers_2
  • MNZ_sleep_cycles_1
  • MNZ_sleep_cycles_2

There is a lot more of such examples to follow, but the issue at stake is the research on the subject of fatigue that has already been done and how the industry in general is responding to suggested and required measures.

Last Updated (Sunday, 04 October 2009 21:52)

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