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Fatigue leads to deadly accidents at sea

While people on the roads in New York associate the dangers of fatigue with large truck drivers, this factor is actually a significant threat on the world’s oceans, as well. In fact, according to The Guardian, seaman fatigue on merchant ships could be a significant contributor to the hundreds of fatalities each year caused by human error.

One of the common reasons seamen are so exhausted on the job is a lack of adequate crew. Large ships use automated equipment to perform the work of many, and employ as few as 13 people to conduct the manual operations necessary. Without enough aboard to complete the duties, many must spend long hours doing these tasks. With a fatigued crew member at the helm, even the most sophisticated computer equipment and machinery may be deadly rather than cost-effective.

Marine Insight reports on a fatal accident that occurred on a ship that did not have enough crew to adequately operate based on the specifications of its Minimum Safe Manning certificate. Not only were there too few deck ratings aboard, some were performing duties that they should not have been assigned to, and may not have received training to complete.

An investigation found that these issues were among the many violations that led to the death of a bosun who had been on duty for 20 of the previous 24 hours. The man was hit and knocked overboard by a descending lifeboat that he had been attempting to secure after the vessel left port. The remaining crew members were unable to rescue him. 

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