Your Saturday Listen: Fatigue really does kill

For your Saturday Morning Listen this week, we’ve got another video for your viewing pleasure — one we we hope will encourage you to think carefully about how we as workers, owners and managers organize our work schedules.

For decades, accident reports have found that fatigue has played a role in maritime incidents — including some of the most horrific, such as the oft-cited Exxon Valdez.

But although the problems associated with fatigue are well known, industry continues to cut crewing levels on vessels, doubles up on duties and reduces leave time.

Even now, while Harper’s Conservative government and some corners of industry will have the Canadian public believe they have constructed a “world-class tanker-safety” regime, B.C.’s largest tugboat company — Seaspan ULC, which intends to profit in the LNG and tanker-escort and berthing business — is slamming its seafarers against the wall. Seapan ULC has demanded 49 concessions from the Canadian Merchant Service Guild and ILWU Local 400 Marine Section. Many of these concessions will have a direct impact on overall crew wellness and fatigue.

That’s a story for another day. Our point for now? Fatigue is a critical issue, and it’s one that industry has yet to acknowledge with appropriate arrangements. ITF inspectors and even port-state control officers will tell you that shipping companies are fudging the “hours of rest” record books — the records that indicate how long crew have worked and how long a rest period they have been given.

Please take 30 short minutes over tea this morning to watch the video, consider the impact of fatigue on the marine environment and on crew welfare —  and reflect on how we really can protect our coastal environments with stricter rules and stronger enforcement of maritime-safety standards.

Our thanks for the video go to the Seafarers International Research Center of Cardiff University and our to ITF affiliate Nautilus, which provided partial funding.



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