Vol 71, No 4 (2020)
Original article
Published online: 2020-12-30

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Poor sleep quality, long working hours and fatigue in coastal areas: a dangerous combination of silent risk factors for deck officers on oil tankers

Farhad Azimi Yancheshmeh1, S. Hossain Mousavizadegan1, Amin Amini1, Andrew P. Smith2, Reza Kazemi3
Pubmed: 33394488
IMH 2020;71(4):237-248.


Background: The high number of marine incidents in port and coastal areas due to the tired deck officers’ erroneous actions are one of the major challenges of marine transportation. Approaching, berthing, and cargo handling (ABC) are the most stressful and exhausting operations of the ship in these areas, which are carried out consecutively and uninterruptedly.

Materials and methods: This study examined Psychomotor Vigilance Task (PVT) performance, Arrow Flanker Task performance and the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) of 70 deck officers of ocean-going oil tankers with 4on–8off shifts at the end of the first shift of cargo-handling operations. In this case, they had worked more than 14 hours continuously. Also, their level of sleepiness was assessed using the Karolinska Sleepiness Scale (KSS) at the beginning, middle, and end of their first shift of handling operation. Results: The results were analysed according to the duration at sea and deck officers rank. PSQI, KSS, PVT mean reaction times and lapses, and also Flanker’s variables were higher among the chief and second officers who were present on board between 0–30 days. The state of officers who were present on board between 31 to 60 days was better than the officers with 0–30 and 61–90 days’ duration at sea. In addition, the results show that sleep quality during tour of duty affects cognitive performance and sleepiness of officers during cargo handling operations. Conclusions: The paper concludes by discussing possible solutions for reducing fatigue and human error among seafarers.

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