A Comprehensive Approach to – Fatigue Mitigation for Merchant Vessels

A.P. Chengalath, Suresh Pattibhiraman, C. Sridhar


Fatigue amongst sailors serving on small or large vessels has been a long standing problem of the industry for which no clear answers have emerged. Needless to say all interested party’s, be they International maritime Organization ( IMO ), National  (Australian Maritime Safety Authority - AMSA etc.), Regional and private bodies or institutions, have spent a fair amount of energies on this subject, but with very little achieved practically in terms of any real solution to address the issue of fatigue in the maritime industry.

The initial efforts to control fatigue was the adoption of International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watch Keeping (STCW) 1978/1998. Progressively amendments have been made and ratified until as late as 2010.This was later followed by Marine Labor Convention (MLC) 2006 leading to regulation on minimum work and rest hours. However implementation of these regulations was found to be self-defeating due to conflict of interest in the senior officers who were required to implement these standards themselves and manage fatigue and operational requirements.

The poor compliance of the MLC 2006 Regulation has now prompted yet another an administrative procedure in the form Fatigue Risk Management (FRM) to be adopted as part of the International Safety Management (ISM) system on board to satisfactorily fulfill the guidelines.

The paper firstly redefines fatigue as an expression of the three primary parameters – work, manpower and time. It further goes to analyze and offer a pragmatic solution to mitigate fatigue by - reworking work schedules, providing alternative staffing and instituting a self-regulating tool - Crew Activity Mapping (CAM) for continuous monitoring fatigue on-board.

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