Editorial (18)

As most shipboard systems depend on some level of human involvement, the human link is a potential frailty that needs to be managed, monitored and nurtured. Healthy, happy, well trained and motivated mariners are essential to the safe running and commercial efficiency of any ship.

 

As most shipboard systems depend on some level of human involvement, the human link is a potential frailty that needs to be managed, monitored and nurtured. Healthy, happy, well trained and motivated mariners are essential to the safe running and commercial efficiency of any ship. (Alert! Issue No. 4)

We read so much about the plight of seafarers who's working and living conditions are well below the norm, and where health and safety are not high on the employing company's agenda. There may be instances where morale aboard the ship is high, due to the leadership of the master and his senior officers, but where there is little loyalty to the company because of their failure to promote a 'company' culture, or adequately provide for the health, safety and wellbeing of their seafarers.

Article IV of the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 - which is featured on page 2 of this bulletin - emphasises the rights of every seafarer to a safe and secure workplace that complies with safety standards; to fair terms of employment; to decent working and living conditions on board ship; and to health protection, medical care, welfare measures and other forms of social protection. The shipowner or shipmanager has a duty, therefore, to provide a safe and secure working environment, decent working and living conditions and fair terms of employment for their seafarers.

It takes good management and direction from the top to create and maintain a safe and secure working and living environment, by encouraging a safety culture and greater security awareness through good ergonomics, safe working practices and the provision of protective equipment, together with proper physical security.

It also takes good management to provide for the seafarer in terms of adequate remuneration, benefits, family support, healthcare and welfare facilities. Equally, it takes good management, and leadership from the top, to develop a company culture by building trust through a policy of openness, good communication and empowerment such that the seafarers and their families feel valued and involved as part of the Company. And, it takes good management to invest in the seafarers and not consider them as a cost.

It takes good management to provide adequate and comfortable accommodation, sufficient nutritional and healthy food, recreational facilities, and access to ship-to-shore telephone communications and email and inter- net facilities to enable crew members to keep in touch with their families.

It needs good management to support the work of National Seafarers' Welfare Boards and Port Welfare Committees. It will also take good management, and bold leadership, to support those who may be victims of circumstances that cause them to be jailed.

It will take good management to comply with the mandatory standards of the Maritime Labour Convention 2006; and it will take inspirational leadership to comply with the Con- vention's non-mandatory Guidelines.

There will, of course, always be those seafarers who are not happy with their lot, no matter how much they are offered by way of remuneration, benefits, family support, healthcare or welfare facilities. But, safe, healthy, happy and motivated seafarers will prove an asset to any company.

Indeed, if you look after your people, they will look after you...