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An ergonomic nightmare!

ergonomic-nightmare
Written by Amit Sharma

‘An ergonomic nightmare’ is an expression often to be heard emanating
from the mariner, reflecting his opinion on the layout of the ship’s bridge, or
the engine room. The IMO definition of ergonomics is the study and design of
working environments (e.g., workstation, cockpit, ship bridges) and their
components, work practices ,and work procedures for the benefit of the worker’s
productivity, health, comfort, and safety.

A ship is unique in that it is not only a place of work,
within which there are a number of workspaces – the bridge, the machinery
control room, the engine room, the cargo control room, cargo holds, galley etc
– each of which may have different operational criteria, but also it is a
‘home’ to those who work onboard. Furthermore, it is a floating platform which
can be affected by external and internal environmental conditions such as weather,
temperature, humidity, noise, vibration and ship motion (pitching, rolling and
slamming), any of which can also be detrimental to the safety and performance
of those who work and live onboard.

The mariner is generally a trusting sort of person; he (or
she) has implicit faith in those who have conceived, designed and built his
ship. Alas, there is no such thing as ‘the perfect ship’, because the end
product is inevitably a compromise between what is needed to satisfy the
regulations, what is absolutely necessary to fulfill the operational role, and
what is affordable. But, it must be ‘fit for purpose’ to enable the master and
his crew to fulfill their obligations to ensure the safe conduct of the ship and
the safe and timely delivery of its cargo. Put simply, for any ship or system
to operate safely and effectively, it must be designed to support the people
who operate it, without detriment to their health, safety and overall
performance.

Ergonomic considerations do not just start at the design
stage of a ship and finish at build – they must be applied throughout its
lifecycle, especially when updating its role or its manning philosophies or
when retro-fitting new systems or equipment. If you don’t get the ergonomics
right, overall ship performance may be compromised!

About the author

Amit Sharma

Graduated from M.E.R.I. Mumbai (Mumbai University), After a brief sailing founded this website with the idea to bring the maritime education online which must be free and available for all at all times and to find basic solutions that are of extreme importance to a seafarer by our innovative ideas.

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