The United States Coast Guard (USCG) has issued a marine safety alert regarding the ignoring and silencing of on board alarms and the possible consequences of failing to take proper actions in such situations.

Based on recent incidents, the safety alert states that a false sense of operational safety develops when crewmembers continually silence what they consider to be a ‘nuisance alarm’, enabling a false perception of normalcy to develop.

In such cases, alarms are simply acknowledged by the crew and no further investigation is carried out. However, crewmembers should be mindful that alarms forewarn operators of a problem and if the alarms are ignored and a situation is allowed to persist indefinitely, an unwanted incident may eventually occur with potentially dire consequences.

As a result the USCG has issued some recommendations on the topic. “Address the management of nuisance alarms in Safety Management Systems (SMS) and require immediate correction of their specific causes,” it advises.

“Include strict prohibitions against the pinning or securing of alarm acknowledgment buttons and switches. Such actions should be deemed as unacceptable corrective measures as they have contributed to serious marine casualties in the past.”

The safety alert can be read in full here.