The Oil Companies International Marine Forum (OCIMF) is embarking on a foundational approach to integrate Human Factors into its activities and the practices of its members. A core principle is the acceptance that (a) people will make mistakes, and (b) this becomes more likely under conditions which make the work more difficult. Understanding and talking about these underlying conditions is critical to our ability to prevent mistakes.
See The OCIMF Human Factor Approach information paper that is available here: The OCIMF Human Factors Approach
The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has had a significant impact on crew changes leading to longer than anticipated tour lengths and delayed repatriation for seafarers globally.
The adverse effects on the physiological and mental wellbeing of affected crew members and their respective families could impact performance and vessel safety.
Extended tours have the potential to become a source of stress and frustration for many. In some cases, crew members may work extended tours and have less breaks. They may be anxious to return to families and communities affected by the virus or feel socially isolated. Morale may suffer and the quality and duration of an individual’s sleep may be reduced as a result. Increased fatigue, stress and distractions caused by these issues mean that people are more likely to make mistakes.
There may be other unintended consequences which could make work more difficult and increase the potential for human error. These include reduced communications, altered or reduced manning, changes in systems of work due to COVID-secure arrangements (i.e. social distancing and increased sanitisation measures) as well as anxiety suffered by crew awaiting their next assignment for an extended period of time.
OCIMF encourages all concerned parties to assess the impacts, direct and indirect, of COVID-19 measures on crews and their potential influence on human performance. All efforts should be made to manage these changes, implement appropriate mitigations and facilitate crew changes to minimise these potential impacts on crew.