The American Waterways Operators (AWO) and the U.S. Coast Guard recently co-sponsored a workshop to introduce the Crew Endurance Management System (CEMS) to towing company personnel. The system, developed by the Coast Guard's Research and Development Center with cooperation from AWO member companies, is designed as a comprehensive approach to alertness in the industry. The workshop, held July 17-18 in Houston, complements the Coast Guard-AWO Safety Partnership's Crew Alertness Campaign, which has been ongoing since 1999. Crew alertness is at the top of the Coast Guard's and AWO's priority list of safety initiatives. The workshop aimed to increase the awareness of factors affecting alertness, such as environment, diet, light and sleep; provide training on ways to mitigate behaviors contributing to fatigue; and provide solutions, such as alternative watch schedules and light management. The goal of the workshop was to facilitate the development of company-specific CEMS plans by participants. A guide on crew endurance is expected to be distributed in September.
Several AWO member company vessel crews participated
in the development research for the CEMS. One of those, American Commercial Barge
Lines (ACBL), has already implemented the CEMS on several vessels in its fleet. Workshop attendees included representatives of more than 36 companies from both inland and coastal towing operations
, including marine operations managers and port captains who have direct responsibility for safely crewing
and operating company vessels. Dave Dewey, President,
Western Kentucky Navigation, remarked that the workshop "exceeded my expectations. It was based on solid science and I learned some great ideas that I can use in my company."
AWO will continue to work with the Coast Guard through the Safety Partnership and Crew Alertness Campaign to educate crewmembers, implement the CEMS and develop other ways to mitigate factors affecting crew endurance.