The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has led to hundreds of thousands of seafarers to have unplanned, extended tours of duty on vessels, which have often been far beyond the recommended maximum.
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has highlighted the “immense risk” that increased fatigue represents for the physical and mental health of individual seafarers and for the safety of navigation, security, and protection of the marine environment.
In response to this crisis, classification society DNV has instructed its safety management auditors to add an extra protocol on seafarer health, work and living conditions to their 2021 audits.
This new DNV audit protocol is grounded in the International Safety Management Code (ISM) and the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) 2006. The overall objective of these regulations is to ensure safety at sea by requiring companies to provide, among other things, a safe working environment through assessing all identified risks to ships and personnel and establishing appropriate safeguards.
Georg Smefjell, head of maritime management systems services, DNV Maritime, commented: “The pandemic has in many cases made crew repatriation difficult, posing challenges to the mental health of seafarers working and living in relatively confined spaces for extended periods. Focusing on relevant ISM objectives and implementing appropriate safeguards for risks related to the pandemic will enable DNV Document of Compliance (DOC) holders to better handle the ongoing challenges.”
Knut Ørbeck-Nilssen, CEO of DNV Maritime, also noted: “The whole value chain of shipping has its role to play in supporting the ongoing plight of the seafarers. Safety at sea is at the heart of everything DNV does and the health and wellbeing of crew is vital to upholding safety standards. We believe that increasing our focus on the risks associated with seafarer fatigue in our safety management audits will help support safer operations at sea.”
DNV has recently revamped their MMS audits around the fit for purpose concept, where auditors assess the effectiveness of management systems in meeting customer and regulatory objectives based on analysis of customer performance and needs.