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Sleep issues can contribute to maritime accidents

On Behalf of | Oct 5, 2023 | Frequent Injuries and Accidents

In Alaska, maritime workers who understand the potential dangers they face when on the job will undoubtedly know the common causes of accidents and injuries. Frequently, that includes an equipment problem, a lack of safety equipment, collisions, weather-related accidents and more. However, some accidents happen for lesser-known reasons. Recently, an investigation into a serious crash showed what people need to watch for to remain safe.

Ferry crash investigation cites several avoidable factors

An investigation into a Washington State ferry that crashed in 2022 was recently completed. The National Transportation Safety Board released the results of its assessment regarding its cause. When the accident occurred, it had nearly 100 people onboard as it approached the pier at shortly after 8 a.m. It caused around $10 million in damage.

Around 30 seconds prior to the collision, the master ceased making rudder commands and took no steps to avoid impact or reduce the level of damage. When he was interviewed, he said he did not remember the few seconds before the crash.

The NTSB looked at his work and rest history and saw that he was sleeping between five and six hours a night in the days prior to the accident. He admitted that he had been having an issue sleeping due to a heat wave in the area.

It is believed that he was experiencing what is known as micro-sleep. People who are fatigued will briefly fall asleep due to tiredness. This is comparable to drowsy driving and negatively impacts reaction time, judgment and memory. The quartermaster was also deemed to bear some responsibility due to complacency in following the required protocol when docking.

Maritime accidents have many causes

Although only one person was injured and it was not serious, this could have been far worse. The accident shows what maritime workers and their employers need to be cognizant of when on the water. A lack of sleep and not being vigilant about proper precautions can lead to accidents with injuries and loss of life. This is key for workers who need to be fully aware of what they are doing as they go about their duties.

When there is a maritime accident and workers are injured, they need to have a full investigation conducted to determine the cause. This can be critical with maximizing the payout to cover for lost wages, medical costs and other concerns.