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Setting the hours of rest for watch personnel STCW

resting hoursOne of the significant amendments of STCW aimed to address the problem of fatigue, which is a raising concern for the maritime industry, by establishing the minimum hours of rest for watch personnel while at the same time harmonizing them with the MLC, 2006 provisions. Namely, STCW Chapter A-VIII/1 (Fitness for duty) defines the work and rest hours requirements which after Manila amendments, the STCW 2010 requirements are made in line with the MLC requirements.

As such, STCW sets 10 hours – in any 24 hour period, with no exceptions, except during an emergency – as the minimum number of rest hours for rating and officers.  It is now mandatory to maintain records of each individual seafarers’ rest hours, which may be inspected during Port State Control inspections; The rest hour limits now apply to most seafarers on board, including masters, not only watchkeepers as had previously been the case. For the personnel who do not have watch-keeping, designated safety, security or prevention of pollution responsibilities the MLC work and rest provisions will apply.

The 24 hour period is calculated from the time the watchkeeper’s duty starts, and not from 00:00 hours. The 10 hour rest period may be divided into no more than two periods, one of which must be at least six hours long and no period less than one hour. The rest period in any seven day period must not be less than 77 hours. The minimum rest period is not obligatory in the case of emergencies, drills or overriding operational conditions.

The administration may allow an exception of rest hours provided that the rest period is not less than 70 hours in any seven day period and is not allowed for more than two weeks. However the 10 hour minimum per 24 hour period is still in force.

In addition, the rest hours may be within these two weeks of exemptions divided into three periods. The interval between two periods of exceptions on board shall not be less than twice the duration of the exception. In practice this means that if a seafarer has reduced rest hours to 70 per week over a two week period the next four weeks has to comply with the general rule of 77 hours rest per week and only two rest periods in any 24 hour period.

The above requirements do not apply in the case of emergency or in other overriding operational conditions. Musters and drill shall be conducted in a manner that causes minimum disruption to rest periods and does not induce fatigue.

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