As part of its latest Merchant Marine Notice, Panama Maritime Authority focused on the risks and concerns related to fatigue and other health risk activities on board.
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.
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