Skip to content
Skip to navigation menu


Fatigue at sea

07 July 2011

sea fatigue - web

A new film highlighting the significant problem of fatigue in the seafaring industry has been screened at the School of Psychology.

The 30 minute film, funded by an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Knowledge Exchange Grant, was produced by Paul Allen, who is both a researcher at Cardiff University and an independent film director.

Commissioned to disseminate findings from an earlier research project headed up by Professor Andy Smith, Director of the University’s Centre for Occupational and Health Psychology, the film combines expert interviews from across the maritime industry with research findings to give an engaging insight into this serious and growing problem.

Whilst many seafarers work in excess of 70 hours a week, it is only through disasters such as the Exxon Valdez oil spill, in which fatigue was cited as a contributory cause, that attention is drawn to this otherwise largely hidden community.

Allen saw the opportunity to try an innovative approach to research dissemination using film media, as he explains:

"Research findings are normally written up in reports and papers which rarely go beyond an academic audience. I’ve seen the problem of fatigue at sea first hand and felt impassioned to explore new ways of communicating our research findings to a larger audience. Given my experience in film this felt like the ideal method."

Fatigue has become an increasing problem in the seafaring industry as a combination of intense market forces, regulatory challenges and globalised labour sourcing has lead to a situation where over-worked seafarers are afraid of speaking out for fear of losing their jobs.

Whilst the UK’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has been highlighting the problem of fatigue for a number of years, most accidents see little media reporting due to the fact that the industry is largely hidden from public view, despite the fact around 90% of all goods are transported by sea.

The film is available online at

Related Links: