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Tackling the challenge of tiredness at sea

Research leads to significant improvements across industry and government

Because 90% of goods are transported by sea, fatigue influences at the individual and community level, as well as resulting in significant financial penalties for companies when accidents occur. The team studied the risks and consequences of maritime fatigue using a multi-method approach, studying over 2,000 participants. The research showed seafarers were affected by poor quality sleep, long working hours, high job demands and high stress. Other important factors included numbers of port visits and social isolation.

The research found reporting systems are inadequately designed to record factors relevant to fatigue, and excessive working hours are often hidden by falsified audit.

Fatigue was consistently associated with poor quality sleep and long working hours…50% of the seafarers reported working weeks of 85 hours or more.

This research has led to significant changes across industry and government, including improved safety training, new international legislation, and company policy aimed at reducing fatigue and improving health and safety at sea.

“The Cardiff research took knowledge and understanding of the issue from a relatively unmeasured level to the point at which the problems could be quantified. Nothing of this depth and scale had been done before. It made the case for action stronger than it had ever been and it has been of immense assistance in pursuing representations on behalf of seafarers.” Andrew Linington (2012), Director of Campaigns and Communication, Nautilus (p.228).

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