According to the authority, shipowners or operating companies should pay special attention to the Guidance on Fatigue Mitigation and Management (MSC/Circ.1014), revised at its 100th session (MSC.1/Circ.1598), and others that may arise.
For the purpose of the IMO Guidelines the following definition for fatigue is used: “A state of physical and/or mental impairment resulting from factors such as inadequate sleep, extended wakefulness, work/rest requirements out of sync with circadian rhythms and physical, mental or emotional exertion that can impair alertness and the ability to safely operate a ship or perform safety-related duties.”
These guidelines outline mechanisms that may be used to combat fatigue in order to reduce associated health problems and prevent fatigue-related accidents. Namely, these guidelines should be taken into consideration when:
- developing, implementing and maintaining safety management systems under the ISM Code
- promoting fatigue mitigation and management
- promoting awareness of the causes and consequences of fatigue, developing and delivering training programmes and courses
- conducting casualty or accident/incident investigations
- preparing applications for minimum safe manning documents or when determining minimum safe manning levels for ships
The shipowner or operating companies must take into account the short- and long-term physical and mental health effects on seafarers. Lack of sleep may lead to adverse health effects including but not limited to:
- poor concentration
- increased risk of error and slower reaction times, which can mean that incidents are not averted in time
- reduced ability to handle duties safely and to perform tasks optimally
- damaging health effects over a long period of time
Concluding, the IMO Guidelines on fatigue outline mechanisms that may be used to combat fatigue in order to reduce associated health problems and prevent fatigue-related accidents.