Ships are perhaps busier today than they have ever been – faster turnarounds owning to technological advances in ports have meant that there is ever more to do in a shorter period of time. Add to that the fact that most crew sizes have been reduced – then there is a potential problem in that not only is there less time to do more, but there are also less people to share the burden.
The issue of work load then is an important one – not only from an operational perspective, but one of seafarer well being too. There are proven links between stress and fatigue, and it could well be that an increased work load and lack of rest can combine to further undermine crews, weaken morale and damage the reputation of the profession.
The Seafarers Happiness Index has highlighted concerns over safety issues, crews feeling overloaded, and feeling simply unable to cope with the amount they need to do in the time provided even within legitimate seafarers’ hours of rest requirements.
Some shipping companies manage workload issues very well, and the feedback from the seafarers serving with them can provide some very valuable lessons to the industry.