40% of officers 'asleep on job'
Posted Fri, 03 Feb 2012
Almost half the number of officers who work watchkeeping shifts on ships have fallen asleep during simulations to test their fatigue levels, according to research.
The Project Horizon study, backed by a number of European academic institutions and shipping industry groups, examined 90 officers. It found evidence of sleep in more than 40% of cases.
Researchers from Southampton University found high levels of "subjective sleepiness", similar to danger levels among car drivers, as well as instances of "full-blown sleep", found mainly during night and early morning watches.
The study, carried out to address growing concerns over the role of fatigue and sleepiness in maritime accidents, said it was permissible for seafarers to work up to 91 hours a week, with two rest periods a day, one of at least six hours.
The report will be sent to the British Government.
Allan Graveson of seafarers' union Nautilus said: "No other safety-critical industry would allow key personnel to regularly work up to 91 hours a week, and this study offers the opportunity to move to methods of working that are based on science rather than socio-economic grounds.
"The shipping industry and those who regulate it cannot afford to ignore these findings."
Copyright Press Association 2012