The impact of Covid on maritime safety

The impact of Covid on maritime safety

By Mahima Chawla | June 21st, 2021

The impact of Covid 19 on maritime safety
Covid 19 has impacted the entire maritime industry over the past year. The challenges of living through a pandemic have caused every one of us stress and fatigue as we try to operate safely and effectively. Now, research has shown that many crew members are struggling under the unique pressures of dealing with life at sea in a world dominated by Covid.

In late 2020, The Mission to Seafarers published the latest results of their crew survey, The Happiness Index. The survey is open to all men and women who work at sea and asks ten direct questions to check the contentment of crew members every quarter.

The survey’s questions cover everything from mental health, to family life and day to day working life. Unsurprisingly, the latest results indicated that Covid is taking a worrying toll on our crews.

Crew members are facing fatigue

One of the biggest issues facing crews is fatigue. Covid has led to challenges with vessels changing crew in many ports, meaning that many of the 1,000,000 crew members who usually leave their ships each month have been prevented from doing so. This means many seafarers are spending longer periods at sea away from their families. In an environment that’s already more tense than usual due to concerns about Covid, this is bad news for both emotional and physical wellbeing.

The latest report from the survey has relayed that many crew members are starting to struggle in the face of the pandemic. Crew members have admitted to feeling stressed, trapped and concerned about their own physical health in recent months, with many experiencing extreme fatigue.

We all know that the impact of increased fatigue at sea can be huge. Fatigue is one of the major causes of people-related error at sea, and human reliability is linked to 70% of maritime incidents. Any incident at sea can mean catastrophic consequences for a vessel, its crew, and the rest of the industry. To reduce the risk of fatigue impacting on the risks of human error, shipping companies need to take action to relieve the pressure on their crews.

HiLo’s Human Reliability Model

HiLo is developing a ground-breaking human reliability model to help companies identify the risks posed by people-related error. The model is currently undergoing proof of concept, and some of the industry’s biggest companies are already contributing their data to its development.

If successful, the human reliability model will analyse people-related data from vessels and turn it into life-saving insights to help reduce risks to crew. HiLo has taken years of research and combined it with mathematical modelling to create the model, and it could transform the way we handle our people-related data within the industry.

Shipping companies will share people-related data such as crews’ working hours, shift patterns and work/rest numbers with HiLo. HiLo will anonymise the data and analyse it against criteria we know increase the probability of human error. This enables the team to highlight leading indicators that may lead to incidents, reducing the risks for the companies who support the model.

Sharing human data helps keep crew safe

The survey’s report highlights that there’s never been a more important time to stay one step ahead of your crew’s wellbeing. Seafarers have been facing unique challenges for long periods since 2020, with fewer chances to visit loved ones to recharge and seek support. Add to that the increased stresses of life at sea caused by Covid 19, and it’s unsurprising The Happiness Index flagged higher levels of fatigue and anxiety in 2020 than in 2019.

Sharing people-related data regularly will empower companies to spot risks and warning signs early. Using HiLo to pinpoint potential risks to crew enables shipping companies to act before it’s too late. For example, if an issue with crew fatigue is flagged, companies can seek solutions such as using local crew for fatigue management.

It’s time to prioritise safety

The maritime industry has come a long way when it comes to improving safety. Unfortunately, the ongoing pandemic has meant almost all companies are experiencing increased financial pressures.

It’s crucial that the challenges we’re facing don’t lead to a slip in safety and risk management, undoing the advancements we’ve seen in achieving safety at sea. For many companies, vessel maintenance budgets is one of the first ways to plug financial holes caused by challenges such as the current pandemic.

Data sharing with HiLo can help companies to maximise their fleets’ safety through difficult periods. HiLo’s predictive modelling provides companies with a unique bird’s eye view of what’s going on within their fleets. Our sophisticated analysis and customised reports give companies complete visibility of the leading indicators that pose a risk to their crew. Together, this gives company leaders the confidence to make decisions and reduce risks.

HiLo are passionate about increasing safety levels at sea, and sharing data enables our expert team to highlight risks to vessels and crew before an incident takes place.


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