Inside the Issues

Fatigue

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Introduction

Seafarers are increasingly expected to take on heavier workloads with less crew support, and to work longer hours with less time off – on board or on shore – to recuperate. 

Under the international convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW), it is acceptable for a seafarer to work up to 98 hours a week. This is far longer than the limit of 72 hours a week laid down in the International Labour Organisation convention 180, and almost double the maximum of 48 hours per week in the European Working Time Directive.

What are the dangers of fatigue?

Safety at sea is endangered as crews are not fully alert, and take shortcuts. And your health suffers, now and in the future, through taking poor care of your physical and mental health needs. Comprehensive research on seafarer fatigue, published in 2006, showed how the long working hours culture takes its toll on seafarers:

What about on-board records?

Increased workloads are also leading to a new problem - false record keeping. Seafarers are bowing to the pressures of the job to falsify records of the hours they actually work. This practice undermines onboard safety and health - and makes the problem of long hours working and crew fatigue harder to address.

How can seafarers cope with fatigue?

The symptoms of fatigue can endanger yourself, your colleagues, your ship and the marine environment. The danger signs include:
If you become aware of these signs, you should take the following steps:
Use the link on right of this page to see information on staying healthy.

What is the ITF doing?

The ITF campaign against fatigue at sea argues for:



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