Safety & Environmental Stewardship

Fatigue Risk Management

For more than two decades, AWO has worked with the Coast Guard and other government partners to promote crew alertness and reduce the risk of fatigue-related accidents in the around-the-clock environment of the tugboat, towboat and barge industry. This work began with collaboration with the Coast Guard on the development and implementation of the Crew Endurance Management System to manage risk factors that may cause or exacerbate fatigue and to protect situational awareness.
Ten years ago, AWO started to draw on scientific research, and specifically research demonstrating that obtaining sleep in two periods is as effective as in an equivalent period of uninterrupted sleep, to optimize crew endurance within existing industry watch schedules. Northwestern University’s Center for Sleep and Circadian Biology produced a multi-phase, peer-reviewed study of the sleep habits of towing vessel crewmembers that resulted in a recommendation for the development of a model fatigue risk management plan to promote crewmember sleep, alertness and wellness. The National Transportation Safety Board has also made the establishment of fatigue risk management plans to prevent fatigue-related accidents one of its Most Wanted Safety Improvements since 2017.
In 2018, AWO released Developing a Fatigue Risk Management Plan: A Guide for Towing Vessel Operators. The guide, produced under the leadership of AWO’s Fatigue Risk Management Working Group, can help companies assess their fatigue-related risks and link their existing fatigue mitigation policies and procedures into a comprehensive fatigue risk management plan, with suggested practices that companies can implement to close gaps or enhance existing efforts.
To join the Fatigue Risk Management Working Group, please contact Nicholas Down.