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Long hours leave wind farm workboat crews at risk of fatigue

The UK National Workboat Association (NWA) is launching a new campaign to tackle crewmember fatigue on offshore energy support vessels (OESVs).

Long hours leave wind farm workboat crews at risk of fatigue
©iStock/Kenneth Horn
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Download the fatigue poster below

Signs of extreme tiredness include delayed reactions, poor concentration and corner cutting, all of which leave OESV operators open to making errors that can threaten the safety of their crewmembers. 

The trade association for the workboat industry has called on the offshore wind and workboat sectors to work together to eliminate instances of fatigue. 

The prevalence of extreme tiredness among OESV workers is likely to increase as wind farms get larger, NWA said, as it would see them work further away from the shore with longer journey times and extended shift patterns. 

It noted that some crews feel a “self-applied” pressure to go above and beyond for clients, which can lead to long days and inadequate rest periods becoming a regular occurrence.

It recommends educating managers who are responsible for planning operations and training crews how to identify and report instances of fatigue at sea.

The campaign, “Understanding Fatigue”, encourages shore-based management teams to review project operations plans to ensure that crews are well-rested and able to work safely and efficiently. It also recommends training crews how to identify and report instances of fatigue at sea. 

A poster has been created as part of the campaign for display on all OESVs, to help crewmembers identify the signs of fatigue at sea and to remind them to report them to shore-based management.

A marine guidance note from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency says: “Fatigue amongst seafarers is recognised to be a serious issue affecting maritime safety. Objective evidence consistently shows fatigue to be a contributory cause of accidents, injuries, death, long-term ill health, major damage, loss of vessels and enormous environmental harm.” 

It highlights the importance of a fatigue management plan, which, if implemented effectively, can reduce levels of accidents, injuries and staff turnover.

 

Keeley Downey is acting deputy editor of IOSH Magazine. She is a former editor of Biofuels International, Bioenergy Insight and Tank Cleaning Magazine

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