Questions raised over crew safety in Panama Canal

Panama Canal Source: Canal de Panamá

A new report has put the spotlight on the working conditions of tug crew members in the Panama Canal.
“The tug crew, who guide the more than 12 000 vessels through the canal each year, say they are working dangerously long hours, compromising crew and ship safety, and the safety of Panama Canal itself,” according to the report compiled by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF). 
A tug captain pointed out that following the opening of the new canal more tugs and people were requested by the crew but the requests fell on deaf ears.
Frustrated by the Panama Canal Authority’s (ACP) lack of urgency, the Captains and Deck Officers’ Union called on the ITF to conduct a study.
The ITF has recommended that an independent entity outside of the ACP be established to oversee matters of safety and implementation of safety and fatigue risk management systems to ensure operational safety.
“Because the tugs play a key role in the transit of large vessels with hazardous cargo through narrow and complex waterways, the potential for a catastrophic, fatigue-related accident is increased,” the ITF added.

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