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Saving lives at sea

26 June 2012

Saving lives at sea
Cardiff research is having a direct impact upon safety in the seafaring community.

A research project that is having a direct impact upon safety in the seafaring community worldwide has been recognised at the University's annual Innovation and Impact Awards.

Led by Professor Andrew Smith of the School of Psychology, the Seafarers' Fatigue project has increased understanding of the factors that contribute to fatigue and has played a part in new maritime legislation and company policies.

As a result of its significant impact, the project won the Award for Social, Cultural or Policy Impact, which celebrate outstanding excellence in Cardiff's research. The Award was presented by David Baynes of Fusion IP, co-sponsor of the 2012 Awards.

Speaking about the research, Professor Andrew Smith said: "Fatigue at sea is a huge issue for the maritime industry, with consequences at the individual, community and corporate level. Little empirical research, however, had been done in this field.

"Our work has shown the risk factors associated with maritime fatigue – such as long working hours, poor quality sleep and isolation. In documenting these issues, we showed that seafarers' fatigue could be addressed as a health and safety issue with three levels of intervention - awareness, audit and management."

As well as influencing international legislation and the policies of major companies, the research findings were embedded in industry practice through the production of a video, shot and edited by Paul Allen of the School, which has been used in educating the seafarers of today about fatigue.

Paul said: "Being onboard a ship shooting footage gave me a new insight into the working conditions of seafarers. We were able to document their lives and in turn use the video to raise awareness. It has been particularly satisfying to see this film and our findings being used to help train the next generation of seafarers."

The Cardiff University Innovation and Impact Awards are an opportunity for University academic staff to showcase their innovative collaborations with business and other non-academic organisations, demonstrating the positive impact that academic research can have on economy and society.

The 2012 Innovation and Impact Awards were attended by David Willetts, Minister of State for Universities and Science, and Welsh Secretary of State Cheryl Gillan MP, along with leading figures from industry and academia. The awards were sponsored by Geldards Law Firm and Fusion IP.

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