Christer Nordling hands out money for good work environment ideas

Work environment activities can sometimes be heavy going and frustrating. But not if your name is Christer Nordling. As Administrative Director of the Stockholm Mercantile Marine Foundation, he meets nothing but smiling faces. – This is a really enjoyable job and I am very grateful to have it. I would also claim that we do a lot of beneficial work, not least in improving the work environment for our seamen.
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Work environment activities can sometimes be heavy going and frustrating. But not if your name is Christer Nordling. As Administrative Director of the Stockholm Mercantile Marine Foundation, he meets nothing but smiling faces.
– This is a really enjoyable job and I am very grateful to have it. I would also claim that we do a lot of beneficial work, not least in improving the work environment for our seamen.

Christer Nordling
Christer Nordling
Age: 64
Address: Stocksund, north of Stockholm
Background: Naval officer in the Navy. Between 1998 and 2005 he managed the work of building up the Swedish Armed Forces’ marine safety organisation.  Between 2000 and 2005 he was also the service attaché in Copenhagen.
Current post: Administrative Director of the Swedish Mercantile Marine Foundation in Stockholm since 2006.
A good work environment is important because: our seamen must keep themselves healthy and feeling good so that they have the energy to continue working at sea for the whole of their professional life. The work environment is also important for shipping companies to be able to retain their personnel in the future and recruit new personnel.

Christer Nordling has the gratifying job of representing a foundation that donates large sums of money every year to shipping organisations to improve the work environment and safety. He is satisfied with the fact that more attention is now paid to conditions in machine rooms and control rooms, not least since the foundation is paying for a research post at Chalmers in exactly this area.
– When ships are constructed, machine rooms and control rooms are given lower priority than the hold. That is perhaps understandable, but it does not work in the long term. If shipping companies want to retain their personnel and recruit more in the future, they must rethink their priorities.
Other areas in which the Administrative Director believes there is a lot of work to be done in emphasising the work environment is in the hotel and restaurant departments. The foundation has turned directly to the supplies unit and encouraged them to nominate innovative proposals for the annual awards ceremony, but the response has been cool.
– They have not made their presence known, perhaps because they are a little isolated from the rest of the crew. But I hope that they will be more active, since I am convinced that they have many good ideas.
From the navy
The interior of the Mercantile Marine Foundation buildings at Slussen in Stockholm bears witness to a long history of shipping. Christer Nordling himself has only been here for two years, after a career in the navy. He explains that the step from the navy to the mercantile marine was not that large, however. For the last seven years in the Defence Forces he was in charge of building up the military safety system, including the introduction of the ISM code, and he then had frequent contact with the Swedish Maritime Administration.

Tiger Claw is Christer Nordling’s personal favourite among the contributions that were rewarded on the spring award day. It is an iron claw designed to be installed in the waste pipe from toilets to prevent blockages. Torkel Skarsgård, first ship’s engineer, and Jan Tigerstrand, repairman on TT-Line’s Huckleberry Finn, were behind the invention and received 50,000 kronor between them.
Tiger Claw is Christer Nordling’s personal favourite among the contributions that were rewarded on the spring award day. It is an iron claw designed to be installed in the waste pipe from toilets to prevent blockages. Torkel Skarsgård, first ship’s engineer, and Jan Tigerstrand, repairman on TT-Line’s Huckleberry Finn, were behind the invention and received 50,000 kronor between them.

– I worked with work environment and safety in the navy. You could say that I was Johan Franson in military uniform. And the Work Environment Act has been applied to the navy’s ships much longer than the merchant navy’s, so I am accustomed to working with it.
When it comes to improving the work environment, he sees great potential in the personnel onboard. He is certain that they have a lot of knowledge about how to improve life at sea.
– When you both live and work onboard, you make improvements the whole time and change things that do not work as you would like them to. We can help to further develop ideas here or reward inventions that have already been made.
Safeguarding the legacy
The Swedish Mercantile Marine Foundation was established in 1972 and safeguards the legacy from many seamen’s registration offices that for several hundreds of years were an important social institution for seamen and their families. A good yield has enabled generous benefits, at the same time as capital stock has continued to grow. According to Christer Nordling, there is currently around 370 million kronor in the foundation’s ­strongbox, and this year about 15 million kronor of this sum will be awarded to ”the benefit and gain of seamen”. Schools, students, associations and individual seamen are among the recipients of these funds.
– In the past, the Foundation operated above all as a social safety net for seamen’s widows and seamen in need, and we still distribute an annual compassionate allowance to 290 people around the world. But as the social safety net has improved, this has become a much smaller part of our operations.
Linda Sundgren
(More information about the Foundation’s rewards and awards can be found at www.marifond.se.)

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