Fatigue at sea during and after the COVID-19 pandemic: A comparative study of two matched samples of seafarers
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This paper examines seafarers’ experience of fatigue during and after the pandemic. A multi-phase mixed methods research design was used, including two quantitative surveys (Nduring-pandemic=501 and Nafter-pandemic=412) and 36 in-depth interviews. Applying propensity score matching the two samples to approximate the conditions of a randomized controlled experiment, the study shows that surprisingly seafarers reported higher levels of fatigue after the pandemic. Qualitative interviews with seafarers and ship managers reveal the underlying reason – the intensified ship inspection regime together with policy and regulatory updates/revisions in the immediate aftermath of the pandemic increased seafarers’ workload and made seafarers more fatigued. The results of the two surveys also show that while fatigue risk factors differed between the two periods, fatigue risk can be managed and mitigated in both periods by implementing fatigue risk management policies and practices. Policy and management implications for improving seafarers’ occupational health and safety are discussed at the end of the paper.
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