In its most recent maritime feedback, CHIRP reports about the fatigue in the international towage sector.
ccording to a representative:
Our work levels continue to be high regardless of the awful impact of COVID and this is further increased by a lack of manning. Some vessels are non-operational due to a variety of reasons causing additional workload on the operational tugs and the crews that man them
The reporter also stated that the fatigue management plan operated by the company was not working and fatigue issues were very common. The reporter felt that the company’s ISM system appeared to be related to meeting KPI’s and that the fundamental principles of safety management were being ignored.
Further correspondence with the reporter revealed significant information which, according to the reporter, “indicates an unacceptable level of work stress caused by the current working rosters and workload.”
- Recording of hours of work and rest: The crew record their hours of work and rest in a paper format, not electronically. These are time-consuming and cannot be monitored centrally, hampering identification of potential non-conformities.
- Rostering for jobs: Inaccurate rostering often leads to tugs being deployed unnecessarily, resulting in interrupted sleep.
- Tug maintenance: Tug maintenance can often be delayed or deferred due to work commitments and it is rare to operate with a full complement of tugs due to lack of manning and unplanned maintenance because of breakdowns. Any reduction in tug numbers increases workload across the remaining tugs.
In summary, the nature of towage operations is based on demand and means there is often no opportunity for planned rest. This can be further degraded when tugs are taken out of service for planned or unplanned maintenance. Violations of the minimum daily hours of rest (10 hours in any 24) occur on a regular basis
It also adds that in order to mitigate the risk of fatigue tug operators should ensure that the Fatigue Management Plan has an efficient and centralised recording system to record non-conformities and to ensure that compensatory rest is given. This must conform to the STCW 2010 requirements for work and rest hours.
Sufficient tugs should also be operated to allow for planned maintenance as well as extra redundancy based on historic breakdown rates. The rostering of tugs and their crews should be reviewed to improve efficiency, and take into account the time needed for victualling and vessel cleaning.
Furthermore, a safety representative should be nominated for each group of tugs and safety drills properly structured into the rota.
- Culture: Does everyone really care about safety?
- Local Practices: Don’t cut corners. Don’t let local norms become the new standard. Follow procedures – they are there for a reason. Involve the workforce in developing procedures and practices – they will know if something won’t work.
- Pressure: Ensure adequate resources – people, time, tools. Foster a culture where crew feel able to report pressure overload.