The general level of well-being of Danish seamen will be raised with the help of a knowledge bank filled with useful experience and the support of a psychologist. The Danish Maritime Occupational Health Service (MOHS) is behind the project.
Work environment measures have traditionally focused on safety improvements, such as preventing injuries and accidents. At MOHS – the Danish equivalent of SAN – they now want to put more work into the psychosocial environment.
Under the title of ”A good working life at sea”, the MOHS has started a project to make ships more enjoyable places to work. In interviews, seamen can share their experiences of successful initiatives for creating a good atmosphere onboard. These interviews will then be compiled into a book or CD in order to operate as a knowledge bank for those who need help to solve problems.
– We want to tap into the experience that seamen have about how to solve problems in a constructive way. We do not want a mass of complaints and descriptions of how bad everything is; we want positive accounts of what people have done to change difficult situations into something good, says Sören Böge Pedersen, who is leading the project.
In the first phase, the MOHS sent out a message to all the seamen in the country and asked them to give their views. But after only two replies came in, the strategy was changed and contact was made actively with seamen that were known to have the type of experience they wanted to illustrate in the project. Of the 15 seamen contacted, all were willing to help and the interviews were conducted by a psychologist.
– All interviews will be completed and summarised by the summer, and then the project can start up properly, says Sören Böge Pedersen.
Accounts and toolbox
Among areas that will be included in the project are cultural differences, contact between the ship and the shipping company, problems with cooperation, conflict and leisure time. In addition to seamen’s accounts of their experiences, a toolbox will be available with professional and clear advice on solving problems.
The MOHS will also give courses on different problem areas, arrange theme days and in other ways support shipping companies that wish to work with personnel development and improving well-being onboard their ships. Sören Böge Pedersen believes that it is especially important for shipping companies to focus on the psychosocial work environment now that the shortage of labour is increasing.
– If you want to keep employees, you have to make sure they feel good, he says.
More information about the project is available at www.seahealth.dk.