For years, medical professionals have recognized the role chronic fatigue plays in on-the-job accidents. However, very little of this knowledge has been applied to preventing fatigue-related accidents aboard vessels, offshore oil rigs, or in port facilities.
For seamen and other maritime workers, fatigue can diminish cognitive ability and impair decision-making. This can lead them to make careless mistakes they wouldn’t normally make. Several maritime accidents have been linked to fatigue-related issues, including the loss of the vessel Herald of Free Enterprise in 1987 and the infamous Exxon-Valdez disaster in 1989.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created a maritime labor shortage, especially among seamen. Crews are having to work harder and longer because employers are unable to fully staff their vessels. Some seafarers have been forced to work for over a year without going home. This has only increased the levels of maritime worker fatigue.
Seaman Fatigue is a Ticking Time Bomb
In an interview with Safety4Sea, Mr. Mark Dickinson, General Secretary of Nautilus International, an international trade union and professional association representing seafarers and allied workers states, “If unaddressed, seafarer fatigue represents a ticking time bomb that could lead to serious casualties, loss of life, and environmental damage. It also has a serious impact on the wellbeing and mental health of individual seafarers.”
A recent study by Thetius and Safetytech Accelerator entitled “Fatigue Risk Management, applying a data-driven approach to fatigue in the maritime industry” explored the impact of fatigue on the maritime industry.
It concluded that fatigue “has the potential to cause problems with everything from work and social relationships to mental and cardiovascular health and tackling it is critical for the long term welfare and wellbeing of the maritime workforce.”
The study stresses the importance of understanding and mitigating the growing risk of an overly fatigued maritime workforce. It also takes a look at how fatigue management principles used in other industries can be adapted by maritime employers. The problem is many marine employers only consider the hours a seaman works. What they fail to consider is all the personal and environmental factors that can contribute to fatigue among seamen.
You can read the study here.
Were You Injured in a Fatigue-Related Maritime Accident?
If you’ve been injured in a fatigue-related maritime accident, contact The Lambert Firm to discuss filing a claim against the party or parties responsible for your injuries under maritime laws. The Lambert Firm has been protecting the rights of seamen and other maritime workers since the 1970s. We’re a New Orleans-based maritime law firm dedicated to obtaining the total compensation our clients deserve for the damages they’ve suffered as the result of someone else’s negligent behavior.
Depending on the circumstances that led to your maritime job-related injuries, you may be entitled to a lot more than just maintenance and cure benefits. Contact The Lambert Firm to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our maritime attorneys to discuss your case.