Practical guidelines to aid seafarers and ship-owners to overcome fatigue on ships

July 06, 2016

(Guidelines from the ICWTWU and ICWTWU/FIT-CISL seminar, Venice, May 2015)

The reason for 80% of accidents on vessels is caused by human error which is often a result of fatigue.
To help overcome fatigue the following ideas may prove helpful and are recommended:

  • 1. To fulfill the requirements of the ILO Maritime Labour Convention, 2006, in particular Regulations 2-4 relating to the terms of employment, accommodation, food, medical care and social services welfare of crews.
  • 2. To fulfill the Convention and other documents of the IMO relating to safety of maritime labour, in particular, Resolution A 1047 "Principles of minimum safe manning" entered into force on 01.01.2014.
  • 3. To take into account professional requirements, appropriate health conditions and psychological compatibility when taking on crew.
  • 4. To ensure seafarers are paid decent wages according to international standards, and that there is no delay in payment as this can cause undue stress.
  • 5. To ensure qualitative professional selection for all seafarers.
  • 6. Keep in line with the new requirements of SOLAS regarding exceeding the maximum permissible noise levels in engine room and other areas of the vessel (including residential). Do not neglect the provision of headphones in engine room and ensure crews use them.
  • 7. To establish proper supply of victuals: skilled cook, varied menu, vitamins, juices, and vegetables. This will help seafarers to maintain a healthy weight.
  • 8. To ensure strict hygiene standards on board i.e. cleanliness on ship, provision of showers, baths and a sauna, and a regular change of linen as examples.
  • 9. To provide the vessel with the necessary equipment for crew to use to make daily life easier, such as washing machine, ironing equipment, as well as microwaves, refrigerators, coffee makers, etc.
  • 10. To provide the vessel with equipment and facilities for physical training and sports, promote its regular use.
  • 11. To ensure good quality of uniforms, timely and regular change of uniforms and footwear. Also make sure that uniform and shoes fit well so that the crew is comfortable.
  • 12. In case of absence of the ship's doctor; to have on board a competent crew member who is able to provide medical care, if necessary. To have a medicine chest with the necessary medicines and medical equipment in accordance with the ILO Recommendation 105, plus modern medicines introduced into circulation following the adoption of this Recommendation (1958).
  • 13. To try to ensure shore leave for all crew members despite the short stay of vessels in ports.
  • 14. To allow the crew members, if possible, to take their families' to sea: wives and, in some cases, children.
  • 15. To ensure on every ship unlimited access for crew members to send and receive e-mails to and from home.
  • 16. To pay attention and respect to the elderly crew members, giving them the opportunity to share their experience with young seafarers, to celebrate their achievements and do not be in a hurry to write them off, if health allows them to work at sea.
  • 17. To allow and encourage seafarers of different faiths to conduct their religious rites, to respect and encourage amongst the crew respect for all faiths.
  • 18. To have a library on board and to fill it regularly. To print crew relevant information supplied to the vessel. To put up in conspicuous place information of interest to the crew, in particular, the collective agreement between the company and the union.
  • 19. To have on board films and encourage film nights, to encourage seafarers to shoot and show videos, to update periodically a stock of films of varied repertoire and genres.
  • 20. In addition to TV, to have on board stereos, musical instruments (such as guitar)s, karaoke machines, and table games.
  • 21. To encourage amateur activities (hobbies) of seafarers (artistic creative work, modeling, photo, painting, etc.) and to create appropriate conditions to enable the fulfilment of these.
  • 22. To celebrate birthdays of crew members, congratulate them on the ship's announcement systems.
  • 23. To organize events devoted to commemorative dates, crossing the equator, the adoption of new members to the maritime brotherhood, etc.
  • 24. To encourage the cultivation of plants and flowers on board, and to install aquariums.
  • 25. To choose from the crew responsible persons to take ownership of roles that improve welfare. E.g. collective feeding, sanitary condition of the vessel, a library, cinema, entertainment, cultural and sports activities.
  • 26. To monitor at all levels any issues associated with the life of the seafarers on board a ship. These should be discussed regularly at meetings of trade union committees for improvement and input.
  • 27. To encourage crew members to have a good attitude to each other, including the relationships between superiors/commanders and subordinates.
  • 28. Do not allow carrying loading and unloading by the crew members during rest times, instead of resting, because it is harmful to their health. Ensure proper breaks are taken by all crew.
  • 29. To offer medical consultations on the radio about the provision of care to needy seafarers.
  • 30. To organize a regular doctor's visit on board. (for vessels flying the Italian flag it is provided by law), to have a medical card (in the native language of seafarer and English) for each seafarer, including in electronic format in order to facilitate the provision of medical care to the crew members in any port.
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