Keen safety officers are good, but knowledgeable and engaged captains are also necessary if work environment activities are to make any real progress, according to Karl-Arne Johanson at Seko Seafarers. He is pinning a lot of hopes on a new work environment course that is under development at SAN.
After two weeks of training, safety officers have learned a lot of information about what the work environment law requires and how work onboard should be carried out safely. Good co-operation is also required between safety officers and the captain, though, if the work environment is to be changed and improved.
– Good leadership is the foundation of work environment activities. Without the support of the captain nothing gets any better, says Karl-Arne Johansson.
The captain needs to be sensitive to the crew’s ideas and interested in them having a good work environment, says Karl-Arne. But he also needs to know what a good work environment includes. A few shipping companies train their captains in work environment issues, but so far the subject has been given low priority at colleges and universities.
– Training is vital, and according to the law the captain is obliged to know what is stated in work environment legislation. But students reading to become sea captains are given hardly any training in these issues, and not everybody knows exactly what is required of them. It is obviously important, too, that people working with these issues in the shipping company’s offices ashore are aware of the situation so that they can support and help constructively.
SAN has developed a basic work environment training course for captains and key persons ashore. According to a proposal by the board, completion of the course will lead to a certificate that requires regular updating.
The proposal has been sent to the Swedish Transport Agency, the seafarers’ unions and the Shipowners’ Association for their information and comments.