New rules on hours of rest for watchkeepers coming

The Conference on STCW in Manila, 21-25 June 2010 has agreed changes to Work and Rest Hour Provisions.

A Diplomatic Conference to adopt amendments to the STCW Convention, has agreed, by consensus, a series of new provisions on the issue of “fitness for duty – hours of rest”, to provide watchkeeping officers with sufficient rest periods. Under the Manila Amendments to the STCW Convention, all persons who are assigned duty as officer in charge of a watch or as a rating forming part of a watch and those whose duties involve designated safety, prevention of pollution and security duties shall be provided with a rest period of not less than:

1. a minimum of 10 hours of rest in any 24-hour period; and
2. 77 hours in any 7-day period.

The hours of rest may be divided into no more than two periods, one of which shall be at least 6 hours in length, and the intervals between consecutive periods of rest shall not exceed 14 hours.

At the same time, in order to ensure a continued safe operation of ships in exceptional conditions, the Conference unanimously agreed to allow certain exceptions from the above requirements for the rest periods.
Under the exception clause, parties may allow exceptions from the required hours of rest provided that the rest period is not less than 70 hours in any 7 day period and on certain conditions, namely:

1. such exceptional arrangements shall not be extended for more than two consecutive weeks;
2. the intervals between two periods of exceptions shall not be less than twice the duration of the exception;
3. the hours of rest may be divided into no more than three periods, one of which shall be at least 6 hours and none of the other two periods shall be less than one hour in length;
4. the intervals between consecutive periods of rest shall not exceed 14 hours; and
5. exceptions shall not extend beyond two 24-hour periods in any 7-day period.

Exceptions shall, as far as possible, take into account the guidance regarding prevention of fatigue in section B-VIII/1.

These provisions were the result of intensive negotiations between regulators and the shipping industry. The new STCW requirements are consistent with the corresponding provisions of ILO’s Maritime Labour Convention, 2006.

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