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Health and safety

Report shows increase in safety incidents during pandemic

15 June 2022

A new report by Inmarsat has revealed a rise in reported safety incidents during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Drawing on Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) data from 2018 to 2021, The Future of Maritime Safety Report 2022 highlights a trend towards increased distress calls..

There were 597 distress calls in 2018, prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. This rose by a substantial amount to 749 in 2021. Inmarsat believes that ‘issues with crew change, rapid turnaround in ports and fatigue onboard’ were most likely the root cause of the sudden rise.

Between 2020 and 2021 the number of calls dropped by 85 to 664. The company believes that this decrease shows a ‘stabilisation’ as crews adjust to life in the ‘new normal’.

There is however a downward trend in vessels lost from 2020 into 2021, which may be have been contributed to by an increased focus on safety regulation and improved ship design.

54 vessels were lost in 2021, a decrease of 11 from the figure of 65 in 2020. This follows the decade-long trend of improved safety, with a 57% decrease across the past 10 years.

There was also a divide in terms of which types of ships had incidents. Tankers, fishing vessels and bulk carriers suffered the most incidents. Passenger ships had the least incidents, although this figure may be affected by the lower number of passenger ships in operation during the pandemic.

‘Better understanding these patterns can help us to take proactive steps to prevent such incidents going forward and help guide us to a safer future,’ said Peter Broadhurst, senior vice-president of safety and security at Inmarsat.

‘This data should help us focus our attention and tackle known safety issues in these sectors.


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