Managing crew rest and fatigue

Chronic sleep deprivation and its effects

It is widely accepted that most adults require between 7-9 hours of sleep a night. Yet, it seems that everywhere you look, you hear of people who boast about how little sleep they need. It seems embedded into our culture of work that how little you sleep is a marker of how hard you work.

Time and time again, studies have shown that lack of adequate rest results in poorer performance. Nonetheless, we fail to get enough rest for reasons that range from “the work needs to be done and someone has to do it,” to “I can’t leave work before my boss does.” Some of these reasons may be more valid than others, but the effects of inadequate rest are felt regardless of the reason.

Chronic sleep deprivation can have devastating effects on a person’s health and performance. In 2000, William and Feyer published a paper where they found:

  • A single period of 17 – 19 hours without sleep was equivalent to a blood alcohol content of 0.05%, and
  • Lack of sleep resulted in a 50% increase in time taken to perform tests, with reduced accuracy, compared just consuming alcohol.

It stands to reason that repeated stretches with little rest compounds these effects.

Fatigue at sea and regulations

Fatigue is a significant contributory factor to many incidents at sea. For a significant proportion of accidents at sea, the overriding causal factor can be traced to fatigue and improper rest. No one can deny that it takes a lot of work and man hours to ensure safe and timely voyages of vessels across the oceans. Do we really want our sailors so fatigued that they might as well be drunk? Tired sailors have slower reaction times, which can prove deadly when circumstances require quick reflexes and decision making.

The IMO/ILO guidelines for seafarers’ rest hours monitoring have been established to maintain the humane work hours for seafarers around the world. The STCW 2010 and ILO (MLC 2006) conventions have expanded on these guidelines by laying down rules that govern the requirement for adequate rest hours. In addition, the Oil Companies International Marine Forum (OCIMF) has released recommendations for eliminating ambiguities in the application of these rules.

Complying with regulatory requirements

For compliance with above requirements, a vessel needs to maintain daily record of Work and Rest Hours for all crew on board. The Master can identify and keep a track of non-compliance on the basis of these records, in conjunction with the applicable rules where the vessel is presently sailing.

Rest hours can be monitored in a variety of ways:

  • On paper,
  • Using a spreadsheet, or
  • Using a dedicated software solution.

Recording Work and Rest Hours on paper is time consuming, and requires constant vigilance to ensure that data is accurately recorded. It is also very simple to incorrectly record the information when the pressure to complete a large task list is high.

Using a computerized spreadsheet is another suboptimal solution. It requires an equal amount of vigilance to monitor the data being recorded, along with a certain level of comfort with spreadsheet software.

The last solution for monitoring Work and Rest Hours is to use a dedicated software solution. There are many dedicated solutions on the market, which address many of the issues that are present with the previous two solutions. They are simple to use, allow planning of Work and Rest Hours schedules, and automatically calculate and inform the Master of any potential non-compliance. One of these is Rest Hours Manager, a part of OceanManager’s mHSEQ suite.

Rest Hours Manager & Fatigue Manager

Rest Hours Manager removes the need for complicated spreadsheets and monitoring methods. A crew member can simply click on the times that they start and stop work. The system automatically calculates the time for work, and whether they are complying with the Work and Rest Hours rules that are currently in effect. The system is multi-lingual in English, Chinese, Filipino, Indonesian, and Russian. This makes it very simple to use for a crew of multiple nationalities, and avoids any confusion about what the rules are, and their enforcement.

It also simplifies recording and reporting for the Master of a vessel. The Master can plan work schedules in advance to ensure that no crew member is non-compliant with regulations. They can also take print outs of the Monthly Login Schedule of the crew on board, and present it to auditors and Port State Control inspectors.

On shore, superintendents can monitor schedules and work/rest logs without having to wait for reports from the vessel. Rest Hours Manager is fully compliant with

  • STCW Convention 2010 Manila Amendments,
  • MLC 2006, and
  • OPA 90.

Fatigue Manager is our latest innovation in work and rest monitoring. Working with Rest Hours Manager, Fatigue Manager simplifies logging in and out of work for crew members. Crew members scan their ID cards when they enter and leave the work area, and the times are automatically logged in Rest Hours Manager.

Where this solution sets itself apart is by calculating rest status according to the rules currently in place, and informs the crew member whether they are in or out of compliance with them. This lets the crew members and Heads of Departments be proactive about ensuring that all crew members are getting adequately rested.


Technology is simplifying the recording and reporting of all on-board activities. Ensuring the safety and health of on board crew is no exception. Rest Hours Manager and Fatigue Manager do exactly this.

Contact to schedule a demonstration.

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