Reference number
Date reported
Published date
Affected operation/industry
Concern subject type
Concern summary

The concern related to the fatigue experienced by marine pilots.

Reporter's deidentified concern

The reporter expressed a safety concern related to the fatigue levels of marine iron ore pilots contracted to [operator].

The fatigue levels are significantly higher that what is acceptable in other transport industries.

The reporter advised that records have been kept for the last three years, using two different systems of fatigue record keeping.

The pilots are exhibiting fatigue by their irritability, micro sleeps while piloting, running red lights while driving, loss of situational awareness, difficulty sleeping and anxiety.

Anxiety of doing damage to [operator’s] infrastructure and causing billions of dollars in damages and loss revenue, as well as the risk of an accident with other port users such as gas carriers and oil rigs compound the insidious nature of the fatigue.

Reporter comment: Fatigue amongst the Marine Pilots contracted to [operator] has reached dangerous levels.

Named party's response

Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention. The operator treats fatigue very seriously and works closely with our contracting groups to ensure their fatigue management is consistent with our own approach, given that this is a safety critical issue.

We will continue to engage with the contracting company to determine whether there are any improvements that can be made to their current fatigue management practices.

Regulator's response

Pilbara Ports Authority

It is my understanding that ATSB approached the operator and have received an appropriate response, similarly the [Location] Harbour Master has indicated that he has no reason to suspect there is a deficient fatigue management system in place.

2nd regulator's response

Australia Marine Safety Authority

From a Navigation Act perspective, we do not regulate port pilots or port operations. Responsibility with those aspects rest with port authority and work cover authorities. The REPCON received seems to fall within the scope of port management and their work, health and safety obligations rather than a maritime legislation matter.