The UK National Workboat Association (NWA) is launching a campaign to combat crewmember fatigue on offshore energy support vessels (OESVs).
According to NWA, the Understanding Fatigue campaign comes in direct response to widespread concerns about the occurrence of fatigue among workboat crewmembers in the offshore wind industry.
The association said that the offshore wind and workboat sectors must collaborate to ensure that instances of fatigue are eliminated by educating managers responsible for planning operations and teaching crewmembers how to spot and report fatigue at sea.
A free poster resource (see below) has been designed as part of the campaign and will be displayed on all OESVs to help crews identify the signs of fatigue.
Crewmember Fatigue 101
NWA explains that with wind farms increasing in size, scale and technological advancement, OESV operators are working farther offshore, which requires longer journeys and extended shifts. Therefore, project developers maximize the uptime of the contracted workers, resulting in more working hours beyond advisable and even on legal limits, leaving crews overtired and vulnerable to making errors.
In addition, some OESV companies reported that crews felt a self-applied pressure to go above and beyond for clients, which can initially manifest as a one-off instance of overtime, but can lead to long days and inadequate rest periods becoming commonplace.
This situation is said to often be compounded by the contractual relationships in offshore wind construction, which can see projects handed over to new, sometimes less experienced coordination, and as project timeline pressure increases, crews are often missing the signs of fatigue.
The effects of extreme tiredness can include delayed reaction times, poor concentration, and a temptation to cut corners, all of which threaten the safety of crewmembers and the integrity of operations.
“We are really pleased so far with the positive response to the campaign within the industry. Researching the subject over the last year, we have been strongly supported by government and industry bodies, offshore wind farm operators and stakeholders – and of course vessel operators and their crews,” said Kerrie Forster, Chairman of the National Workboat Safety Forum.