Fatigue is one of those sneaky things that will creep up on you and often without you realising it until something happens. It’s been a major problem over the years in maritime industries but especially in the commercial fishing sector.
Crew members on charter vessels, ferries, water taxis and other passenger/vehicle transport vessels that operate in Australia are usually short voyage operations.
In addition, they usually operate between fixed times and often with crew changes scheduled in during their operating timetables. Crews on construction vessels are usually controlled by legislation in relation to their operating times.
This makes fatigue relatively easy to manage compared to some other sectors, but it can still be a major issue. Crew members and shore-based workers who fail to get adequate rest between working hours are in risk of suffering from fatigue.
Fishing operations such as net fishing or prawn trawling in bay and/or estuary waters are often either day or night operations allowing sufficient rest periods between voyages.
Others such as long liners, line fishing vessels and trawlers that operate offshore and may undertake round the clock operations. This is where fatigue management is critical to ensure the safety of all persons onboard.
In shore-based workplaces workers are subject to fatigue as well based on the hours they work, number of shifts and many other factors that often don’t get taken into account.
Your operations will determine how you manage fatigue. Here are a few pointers on what to consider…
This is a starting point of things to consider before jumping into developing your fatigue management programme!
To properly assess fatigue, you need to take into account two key elements which are:
The combination of the above will identify a crew member or workers risk of fatigue and then allow a process to be put in place, where required to minimise the risk.
The risk of fatigue is calculated by undertaking a risk assessment that is designed to identify all the areas that contribute to fatigue.
In general terms risk of fatigue is broken down as follows:
Low Risk is deemed that a person works less than 50 hours per week
Medium Risk is where a person works between 50 – 70 hours per week
High Risk is where a person works more than 70 hours per week
This procedure can be quite tricky to ensure it’s on target and I always recommend doing a risk assessment on fatigue for your operations before you start.
When developing a fatigue management procedure here’s the key points to take into account…
The above points provide the basis for developing your fatigue management procedure but remember it is a tricky one to get right.
Remember that fatigue often goes unnoticed until something happens and that could be anything from a minor injury to loss of life or damage to or loss of a vessel or workplace.
We strongly recommend that you take fatigue seriously and undertake a detailed risk assessment in relation to fatigue.
You can do a group risk assessment where you take into account all crew members or workers who are operating on the same work hours.
Where there are differences in specific crew members or workers hours you need to do a risk assessment on that person or persons.
When undertaking risk assessments for fatigue our tip is to ensure you cover all aspects of the group or individual crew member or workers hours including total hours worked per week, breaks and the one that most people don’t take into account travel time to and from work.
To get an honest appraisal of a person’s fatigue potential you need to be honest about all their hours both work and rest periods.
If in doubt or you need assistance with fatigue risk assessments don’t hesitate to contact our office because we’re here to help!