Paperwork. Even in the oft-maligned paperless office that ships are becoming, the “paperwork” is growing at an alarming pace. Whether it is the effect of MARPOL Annex V and garbage logs, STCW work/rest hours, the pre-departure checklist required by your Safety Management System (SMS) or the “minor” monthly inspection that your port engineer now requires, the cumulative effect of paperwork (i.e. the administrative burden) is alarming.
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is seeking input from mariners on how to reduce this burden. In conjunction with the Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO), mariners are able to provide feedback on the paperwork required based on a wide variety of “mandatory instruments.” The form to be filled out is quite lengthy, but the potential for reducing the workload is an attractive offset.
The latest edition of the IMO News magazine (below) contains an article addressing the reduction of paperwork. Danish Captain Christian Rørbeck in a presentation to the IMO Facilitation Committee speaks of the of the paperwork required when calling at six ports in Northern Europe. For those six ports, he reported a total of 80 port documents and 42 pre-arrival documents. It’s no surprise that Captain Rørbeck also noted that he spends 80 percent of his work time on paperwork.
Some pundits have made comparisons between the IMO’s efforts and the United States’ Paperwork Reduction Act which strove to reduce the nearly 9.71 billion hours (2009) of mandatory paperwork. While the U.S. was not wildly (or mildly) successful, if you feel strongly about reducing YOUR paperwork on the ship, please take the time to add your input. Will the IMO succeed with our assistance or will the paperwork monster continue to rear it’s ugly head?