Crews need to listen – or they won’t be hearing in the long run.

Nov 08 2012

A friend who works as a ship inspector recently told me that on about 10-15% of the tankers he inspects, when he enters the engine rooms he will encounter engineers with no ear defender or ear plugs.

I was really very surprised by this!

It got me thinking of my own time at sea and the people l worked with where you would part company and make loud promises to keep in touch (admittedly a little more difficult in the days before Facebook). One Chief Mate, who I sailed with on VLCCs between 1994-96, I kept in touch with through exchanged Xmas cards. In his 2007 card he announced that his hearing was starting to go, which he put down to too many years in cargo pumprooms!!!.

Audio stress can be caused by noise at levels as low as 60 dB, which is about the noise level on an average merchant ship, so looking after hearing is something that all seafarers must constantly concern themselves with.

The IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee will meet for its 91st session between 26-30 November 2012, in London, and approve for adoption the ‘Code on noise levels on board ships’. This sets out mandatory noise level limits for machinery spaces, control rooms, workshops, accommodation and other spaces on board ships, updates and revises the previous version published in 1973 (resolution A.468(XII)).

And the other moral to the tale? When I got that card the first item on my new year resolutions for 2008 was to find out when he would be on leave that spring and book a flight to go and see him. Cherish your hearing and cherish your shipmates!

Want to learn more:

Ship noise and its effects on seafarers' health

Protecting seafarers from exposure to noise

Code of Practice on Noise and Vibration in Ships