It’s the holiday season, the happiest time of the year for many of us. But is it the same for seafarers?

The latest Seafarers Happiness Index report by The Mission to Seafarers reveals yet another decline in the happiness level of seafarers at sea.

The Q3 2023 report shows an overall score of 6.6 out of 10, from 6.77 in Q2 and 7.1 in Q1. The biggest drop is in the ‘Workload’ area.

“Overwhelming” – that’s how the seafarers consistently describe their workload.

Hunched under the crushing weights of excessive workload, manning shortages, tons of paperwork, expanding regulations, and a complex interplay of other factors, the seafarers’ shoulders tell a story of fatigue – a persistent issue despite regulations intended to combat it.

Work-rest records – just a pointless exercise?

A 2020 report from the World Maritime University found that work hours were either underreported by seafarers or work-rest hour records were manipulated later for compliance purposes. The practice of recording hours was seen by many on board as time-consuming and often pointless.

We checked the pulse of seafarers online, and they mostly share the same sentiments. Here are some of the statements we found:

Those are the sentiments outside the Safety Delta universe. Now, let’s look inside our community.

One of the common issues we see in this year’s annual Safety Delta reports is violating the rest hour period without registering the extra work time – which we will address later in this article.

While this issue is definitely NOT the case for everyone, if you have it on board, we invite you to reflect –What are the possible causes and root causes of this issue?

What fatigue is not

To manage fatigue, we must first understand what it is and what it’s not. You most likely know what fatigue is – we’ve all, at one point in our lives, experienced it. So, let’s focus on what fatigue is not because honestly, this is where most people get it wrong.

Fatigue is…

NOT simply a sleep issue. There is more to consider – contact with home, shore leave, diet, and exercise.

Not just about physical tiredness. Fatigue can contribute to mental health issues like anxiety and depression.

NOT something that will go away with just caffeine and stimulants. Relying solely on them can lead to dependency and worsen fatigue in the long run.

NOT a sign of weakness or laziness. It is a physiological response and not simply a matter of willpower.

NOT just your problem. When you are fatigued, it affects your colleagues, your family, everyone.

We can lighten the load collectively

There will always be many things to do, and we can’t change the demands. But we can do something to cope with the demands.

We – the crew members, on-board leaders, on-shore managers/leaders, and the Safety Delta team – can do something to stop the ticking time bomb of fatigue before it leads to serious accidents and physical and mental health issues.

Here are some tips:


Recognise the signs of fatigue in yourself and others (exhaustion, clumsiness, insomnia, loss of appetite, irritability, poor concentration, poor judgment, slow responses, decreased vigilance).
Utilise your rest hours appropriately by spending them plainly on relaxing, refreshing, and energising your body and mind.
Consistently keep and review records of hours rested or worked and ensure to avail of compensatory rest when you exceed the work hours.
Communicate fatigue-related concerns by reporting them to your leaders and discussing them with your colleagues so you can watch out for each other.
Keep a healthy lifestyle by eating well-balanced meals, exercising regularly, and also paying attention to your mental health.


Allocate the right work and resources to provide the crew with sufficient opportunities for rest.
Create an open communication atmosphere by encouraging the crew to report whenever their rest hours are violated or not compensated.
Promote individual record-keeping of hours rested or worked and monitor the crew’s compliance with the rest hours.
Promote a healthy lifestyle and ensure that the work, accommodation, and recreation spaces are suitable and decent.


Provide support and resources in terms of manning levels, workload, ship design, food provision, exercise facilities, sleeping arrangements, and training about the dangers of fatigue and how to address it.
Be open to reports about fatigue and rest hour violations and assure the crew that they won’t result in punitive measures but rather in solutions.

As for us, the Safety Delta team, we will continue to help you diagnose fatigue-related issues, conduct dialogues about them, and come up with development initiatives.

Safety Delta anniversaries

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Among Us
Among Us is a monthly digital newsletter, primarily for Safety Delta members, but also for those who want to get a ‘sneak peek’ at the experiences gained by those of us who are already ‘insiders’. It also presents the developments of Safety Delta.
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