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Posted: September 4th, 2023

Human Factors in Maritime Transportation and Mental Workload Analyses for Seafarers in Bridge Simulation

Human Factors in Maritime Transportation and Mental Workload Analyses for Seafarers in Bridge Simulation

Maritime transportation plays a crucial role in global trade and the movement of goods. The safety and efficiency of maritime operations heavily rely on the human factors involved in navigation and decision-making. Seafarers, particularly those working in the bridge simulation environment, face numerous challenges that can impact their mental workload and overall performance. This research article aims to explore the human factors influencing maritime transportation and delve into the analysis of mental workload for seafarers in bridge simulation. By understanding these factors, stakeholders can devise effective strategies to enhance safety, efficiency, and the well-being of seafarers.

I. Human Factors in Maritime Transportation

1.1 Physical Factors

Physical factors encompass various aspects, including the design and layout of the ship’s bridge, equipment ergonomics, and environmental conditions. The physical layout of the bridge should optimize visibility and provide efficient access to control panels and navigation aids (Lee, 2017). Ergonomic design principles should be employed to reduce the risk of musculoskeletal disorders and enhance seafarers’ comfort during long hours of watchkeeping (Baldauf et al., 2016). Additionally, environmental conditions such as noise, vibration, and temperature can significantly impact seafarers’ performance and well-being (Gucma et al., 2019).

1.2 Cognitive Factors

Cognitive factors involve the mental processes and decision-making capabilities of seafarers. The complexity of maritime operations necessitates effective information processing, situation awareness, and decision-making skills. Seafarers must accurately interpret radar images, charts, and other navigational aids while considering multiple variables (Zhang et al., 2017). Cognitive workload can increase during critical situations, such as adverse weather conditions or close encounters with other vessels (Lu et al., 2016). Additionally, fatigue, stress, and distractions can impair cognitive performance, highlighting the need for effective fatigue management strategies (Bulger et al., 2018).

II. Mental Workload Analysis for Seafarers in Bridge Simulation

2.1 Measurement of Mental Workload

To analyze the mental workload experienced by seafarers in bridge simulation, objective and subjective measures are employed. Objective measures include task performance, physiological responses, and eye-tracking data (Xie et al., 2018). Subjective measures involve self-assessment questionnaires or interviews, where seafarers rate their perceived mental workload (Wu et al., 2020). Combining these measures provides a comprehensive understanding of seafarers’ mental workload during various simulated scenarios.

2.2 Impact of Mental Workload on Performance

High mental workload can adversely affect seafarers’ performance, decision-making, and situation awareness. Excessive workload can lead to information overload, decreased attention, and impaired judgment, potentially resulting in accidents or errors (Bulger et al., 2018). Conversely, low mental workload can lead to complacency and reduced vigilance. Balancing mental workload is crucial for maintaining optimal performance and ensuring the safety of maritime operations.

2.3 Mitigation Strategies for Managing Mental Workload

Effective management of mental workload is essential for seafarers’ well-being and performance. Crew resource management (CRM) training programs have been implemented to enhance communication, teamwork, and decision-making skills among seafarers (Zhang et al., 2017). Automation and technological advancements in bridge systems can also alleviate mental workload by reducing manual tasks and providing decision support tools (Lee, 2017). However, it is crucial to strike a balance between automation and human involvement to avoid overreliance on technology.

Human factors play a pivotal role in maritime transportation, influencing the safety, efficiency, and well-being of seafarers. Understanding the physical and cognitive factors involved in bridge simulation environments is crucial for optimizing seafarers’ mental workload and performance. By employing appropriate measurement techniques and implementing effective mitigation strategies, stakeholders can enhance seafarers’ ability to handle complex maritime operations. Addressing the challenges associated with human factors in maritime transportation is paramount to ensuring safe and sustainable shipping practices in the years to come.


Baldauf, M., Meyer, M., & Schumann, A. (2016). Occupational accidents in international seafaring. Accident Analysis & Prevention, 94, 20-27.

Bulger, J. B., Paquet, V., & Wright, M. C. (2018). An examination of fatigue in the maritime industry: A case study of Canadian marine pilots. Safety Science, 109, 101-112.

Gucma, L., Glowacz, A., & Gralak, R. (2019). Selected environmental factors and fatigue of watchkeeping officers on the ship’s bridge. Ocean Engineering, 172, 487-494.

Lee, S. (2017). Bridging the gap between design and operation of the ship’s bridge for better navigation safety. International Journal of Maritime Engineering, 159(1), A1-A7.

Lu, C., Yang, Z., & Ren, J. (2016). Evaluating marine traffic safety in a complex port water area: A hybrid simulation approach. Safety Science, 89, 293-303.

Xie, Z., Yan, W., & Jia, Z. (2018). Measurement of mental workload using eye-tracking technology during maritime operations. International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics, 65, 1-9.

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