Patterns of Fatigue Among Seafarers During a Tour of Duty

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BackgroundWork-related fatigue is associated with sickness absence and mental and physical health problems, and may increase the risk of accidents and injuries at work. Relatively little is known about fatigue among seafarers, particularly during a tour of duty. The aim of this study was to describe the pattern of day to day fatigue among seafarers during a tour at sea.MethodsParticipants from the offshore support, short sea and coastal, and deep sea sectors of the UK shipping industry completed daily diaries. Information about sleep and fatigue was collected each day on waking and retiring.ResultsFatigue on waking was a more sensitive measure of cumulative occupational fatigue than fatigue on retiring. Fatigue on waking increased between the start and end of tour. This increase took place in particular during the first week at sea, and was most apparent among those on shorter tours of duty.ConclusionsDay to day changes in fatigue are measurable, and may vary among particular sub-groups of seafarers. Used among larger groups, such a diary method could help identify times and activities associated with the greatest risk. Am. J. Ind. Med. 49:836-844, 2006. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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