Our ref: HSR/2/26

Head Office Circular: NP/71/24

22nd March 2024

To: The Secretary




Dear Colleague,



I would like to bring to your attention an opportunity to participate in and raise your concerns in a research programme.


RMT has undertaken a great deal of background work around fatigue and roster patterns in the ferry sector. We have raised concerns with regards to 12 hour working days being spread over an extended period; when on a straight shift pattern that could total 14 hours or more on some occasions.


Human errors, mental health and long-term absence are all effects of fatigue, yet we have an environment that has normalised a maximum 84 hour working week without considering other environmental factors such as sleep, diet, stress and workload.  Seafarers are not robots and expectation that an individual can spend a career at sea working the maximum amount of hours permitted by international regulation, with expected optimum performance to deliver the expected service to customers and remain fit, healthy, alert and productive within the workplace, is wholly unrealistic.  Additionally, fatigue has been identified as an early symptom of cancer and as a union we are aware of multiple cases of employees and ex-employees being diagnosed with cancer. 


The question must be asked if the employer is ensuring the health and safety of workers and other persons, so far as is reasonably practicable, based on concerns raised above.


When your employer has considered the risks of fatigue on the workforce, who was involved in this engagement process as outlined in MCA MGN 505 and when was this last reviewed?  


Is your employer listening to its employees? Is the Fatigue Management Plan (if there is one) managed and reviewed on a regular basis?


Are managers in all departments trained to spot the signs?  Is your company placing obligations on its crew to manage fatigue and mitigate any blame whilst the policy is owned and accountable to shoreside management?


Loughborough University is conducting Department for Transport (DfT) commissioned research into seafarer fatigue in customer-facing roles on RoRo and RoPax vessels. The Swedish Road and Transport Research Institute is the University’s partner for this DfT funded project. 


This is an ideal opportunity for members to give their opinions on the subject direct to the researchers.


Would you like to be involved in a study investigating seafarer fatigue?


Researchers at Loughborough University are interested to hear your thoughts about fatigue and seafaring. If you would like to help, please follow this link and complete the online survey.


The link to reach the survey is: 



The team at Loughborough University has been contracted to write an independent report on the topic of fatigue in seafarers. The report aims to include an accurate reflection of the real experiences of seafarers. The more people who complete the survey the more accurate the report can be. If you have ever felt tired at work this is your chance to let DfT know about it in an anonymous way


You will be asked to fill in an anonymous online survey, which should take around 20 minutes to complete. If you finish the survey, you will be able to enter a prize draw to win one of 10 payments of £50. Prizes will be paid by bank transfer so you do not need to have a UK bank account.

If you have any questions about participating in the survey please contact one of the following researchers:

Sally Maynard, s.e.maynard@lboro.ac.uk, (01509 226941)

Wendy Jones, w.jones2@lboro.ac.uk

Adam Asmal, a.a.asmal@lboro.ac.uk

I attach a flyer which explains the focus groups. I am also attaching a Participant Information Sheet, which will be given to all those who agree to participate.

The study will to consider the possible consequences of fatigue for different roles on the muster list and to determine the most important factors which cause and increase tiredness. This study is particularly focused on exploring the experiences of customer-facing staff due to their importance during an emergency.

Participants must be currently working in a customer-facing role in the marine industry. They must be aged 18 years and over and will be asked to take part in a discussion group with up to seven of their colleagues; the session will be recorded (audio) and take place online. The discussion will be informal and will aim to capture knowledge and views about whether participants believe fatigue/sleepiness to be a problem in their industry, roster patterns, and how fatigue can have an impact on day-to-day operations as well as emergency situations. The discussion group will last between 60-90 minutes.

The focus groups are planned to take place online because they will not be limited to one operator. Anyone who agrees to participate will not be required to say which operator they work for.  


I would encourage all members in customer-facing positions on RoRo and RoPax vessels to respond to this survey.



Please bring this circular to the attention of all relevant members.


Yours sincerely


Michael Lynch

General Secretary