Maritime News

ITF warns that fatigue could cause accidents in the Panama Canal

7 December 2018

A new independent report commissioned by the ITF warns of the consequences for safety in the Panama Canal resulting from poor working practices that lead to fatigue for tugboat captains. It says that a major accident on the canal “could be imminent”.

The report comes after a long campaign by the ITF and affiliate Union de Capitanes y Oficiales de Cubierta (UCOC) raising concerns with the Panama Canal Authority (PCA) over minimum safe manning, access to training and equipment, and hazardous working conditions on tugboats in the new Neopanamax locks. The ITF and union say that a significant reduction in manning and the excessive overtime required have increased fatigue for tugboat captains – who guide large vessels, often with hazardous cargo, through the complex waterways of the Panama Canal. They warn that the potential for a catastrophic incident mounts with the increase in a tugboat captain’s fatigue.

The ITF is calling on the PCA to open dialogue with the unions to resolve the issues, and improve the safety of operations and working conditions of tugboat captains.


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