In good health, but poor work environment

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That is what Swedish seafarers feel about working conditions on board.

The most comprehensive study on Swedish seafarers’ health ever made is now complete. The survey shows that many on board feel that they are healthy, but there are also problems in the form of accidents, noise, exposure to oil and insufficient ergonomics.
Almost 2,000 seamen on Swedish ships assessed their own health and the work environment in the survey. The majority felt they were in good health and the safety climate at sea was judged to be better than in land-based occupations. The results also indicate more work environment problems on board, however. Noise and the risk of accidents were perceived as the most common problems (70 and 65% respectively) followed by vibrations from the hull (48%), awkward postures (47%) and exhaust fumes (46%). Respiratory problems were most common among those exposed to soot, exhaust fumes or dust, and those who work with vibrating tools suffered to a larger degree than others from white fingers and numbness in their hands.
The study was led by Karl Forsell, senior consultant. One thing that surprised him was the high exposure to oil in the machine room, where over 60% of the group stated that they were exposed to oil on the skin daily.
”A little surprising, considering how much we have worked with information about the risks associated with exposure to oil, and that there are work gloves now available which are heat-resistant and oil-resistant,” says Karl Forsell.
The other thing that stands out in the results is the large number of crewmembers who feel that they have been subjected to abuse or harassment. About 20% of all respondents stated that they had been subjected to these at some point during the past year, and among women the proportion was twice as high. The Maritime Joint Work Environment Council (SAMS) has supported the study financially and members from the SAN board have been involved as a reference group.
Read the report in its entirety here. (Swedish only)

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