Survey warns of ‘alarm fatigue’

Bridge alarms survey InterManager & Shipowners' Club survey into bridge alarms. Image: InterManager/ Shipowners' Club

Frequently sounding bridge warnings, especially false ones, can create ‘alarm fatigue’ and hinder watch keepers in carrying out their vital role, a new survey supported by InterManager has revealed.

The survey investigated whether alarms on the bridge may affect the attention and focus of bridge watchkeepers. One issue that emerged was a readiness to silence alarms without investigation due to ‘alarm fatigue’ caused by repeated alarm soundings for no apparent reason. Some 85% of participants reported they were aware of the alarms, the systems they represent and their location. However, 45% of the respondents agreed that frequent alarms are often silenced.

Captain Kuba Szymanski, InterManager Secretary General, said: “It is important that we take a human-centric approach to this and find solutions that benefit our crews in the workplace rather than hinder them when carrying out vital tasks.”

Alarms too similar

Respondents highlighted there is a problem with too many similar sounding alarms and revealed a need for alarms to be easily identifiable so that urgent warnings can be recognised over simple notification bells.

InterManager is now calling for manufacturers to work with ship operators to address seafarers concerns and develop better ways of communicating bridge warnings.

The findings have been released by P&I Club, Shipowners Club, which conducted the survey in conjunction with the Department of Psychology at Royal Holloway, University of London, ISWAN and InterManager.

By Rebecca Jeffrey

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