Mar 032010

imageBeware the UK MCA if you’re cheating on rest requirements. Putting a shot across the bows of shipping companies it warns: “Action will be taken if they are found to be flouting hours of rest requirements”.

Last year the Marine Accident Investigation Branch forcefully expressed its disappointment at the industry’s lack of commitment to resolving fatigue issues and demanded that the UK ‘go it alone’ because no-one else in Europe seemed much concerned.

Both UK and non-UK ships will be subject to inspection, with ships operating busy schedules with small crews being targeted. Onboard schedules and work records will be checked, and compared to the operating pattern of the ship to verify their accuracy. Where time does not allow a detail checking on board, copies will be requested of relevant documents, so that they can be checked later.

As well as hours of rest, surveyors will check for compliance with the requirement for a dedicated lookout at night.

The MCA will also look for evidence of the company’s audit of these records ashore. Under the ISM Code, each company is required to have procedures in place to audit compliance with regulations and company procedures. Ensuring that seafarers are able to comply with hours of rest requirements should be part of that, with non-conformities being addressed.

Surveyors will report specifically on these aspects of the company’s safety management system, for both DOC and SMC audits.

Paul Coley, MCA Assistant Director of Seafarers and Ships says: “It’s been known for many years that tiredness caused by long working hours and low manning is dangerous to both ships and its crews. Shipping companies have been warned about the consequences of fatigue many times. This time its not just a warning. The MCA are determined to stamp out excess hours in UK waters and so significant breaches of the regulations will be reported to our enforcement unit and may result in prosecution.”

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