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Health and safety

New manning rules being considered for vessels working European waterways

30 November 2022

Nautilus members working in inland navigation are being asked for their views on new manning rules being developed for the entire European waterway network.

It is anticipated the new rules will replace the current 30 year-old rules by the end of 2023, with the aim of ensuring the inland navigation industry's future as a sustainable mode of transport, taking a larger market share of traffic, as well as anticipating future autonomous modes of transport.

Firm foundations for the new rules were established by the European Committee for the Development of Standards in Inland Navigation (CESNI). A first draft of any amendments or changes must be presented to that body by mid-2023, with the final draft presented to the European Commission before the end of 2023. A public consultation with unions, employers, and other public bodies is planned for 14 December 2022. 

Nautilus members of the Union's NL and CH branches will be invited to attend an online information meeting on 13 December 2022, ahead of the public online consultation on 14 December.

What are the main points of the proposed new manning rules?

There are seven key points being considered including:

  1. operation with a single crew member criteria – an exceptional but not uncommon situation
  2. mandatory rest periods: the European Transport Workers' Federation (ETF) wants a mandatory rest period of 8 hours for all types of operations to counter fatigue and improve overall safety. The industry will be consulted
  3. mandatory rest days: the ETF proposes at least four mandatory rest days for all onboard, including ship operators. The industry will be consulted
  4. technical standards: employers want greater flexibility under the new EU manning rules to support operations with technical standards and technical equipment
  5. minimum manning for loading/unloading activities – crucially, whether a minimum crew has to be onboard permanently or only when the ship is underway, and under what circumstances.
  6. types of operation: the current operating modes and how they are recorded under hours of work and rest
  7. entry levels: apprenticeships were introduced 30 years ago to promote education and training in the sector, but more are urgently needed. Therefore qualification schemes have been renewed in order to shorten the time to become a skipper. Up for debate is whether a competent, experienced skipper can really be replaced by a deckhand, or any other corresponding ranks, after such a speedy qualification.



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