The foundations for work environment activities are laid down at maritime academies. The content and the length of the courses influence the knowledge of future seamen in this area, as well as the timing of courses during studies.
According to Per-Åke Kvick, work environment lecturer at the Kalmar Maritime Academy, it is a great advantage if students have already experienced the upsides and downsides of ship environments when the subject of work environment comes into the timetable. Students with experience are able to follow lectures better, as well as contributing more to discussions and finding it easier to understand problems and propose possible solution, compared with students who come directly from upper secondary school programmes. Certain things are very abstract for them, says Per-Åke Kvick. But if they have already been on some placements or have perhaps worked for a while, you notice that they are able to get more out of the course.
Interest gradually evolves
Per-Åke Kvick has also noticed that interest in the work environment may require a little time to evolve. Those who have just started a course are often less receptive to the subject than those who are approaching final examinations. – At the start of the officer courses students often think that there are other subjects which are more fun to study than work environment, such as technology and nautical science. Another effect of studying work environment at a later stage in the programme is that not all of the students have had time to grow into the officer role, says Per-Åke Kvick. – Then you look at the work environment more from the personnel perspective and do not really understand your role as a supervisor. This is most clearly noticeable when you talk about laws and rules, since they are rather different depending on what post you have. In Kalmar students study 4 credits in work environment and marine environment. The course is divided into four modules: laws and rules, physical, psychological and psychosocial work environments; gas measurements (in closed spaces and carrying out hot work) and the marine environment. According to Per-Åke Kvick it is the first two subject areas which are given the greatest space. – I think probably that the time we spend on the work environment is sufficient, at least in relation to everything else which must be studied. But the work environment is something which also comes up in several other subjects, such as dangerous goods, where we discuss safe handling methods and protective equipment. During the almost 30 years in which Per-Åke Kvick has taught future officers the subject of work environment, the content of the course has changed somewhat. Less time is spent studying chemicals and how to handle dangerous substances, while more time is now given to a systematic approach to work environment activities and reporting incidents. – Seen in the long-term perspective, work environment teaching has diminished rather than expanded. This is probably not because it has been given lower priority, but because there are many other new subjects that students must study.
Family: wife, 3 children and two grandchildren
Lives: in Mönsterås
Job: Lecturer at the Kalmar Maritime Academy teaching future sea captains and marine engineers in work environment.
Background: went to sea as deck hand in 1966. Seven years later he started to study to be a mate in Kalmar, and in 1978 he gained his sea captain’s diploma. He then worked at various shipping companies such as Sahlén, Grängesberg and Kihlberg, and at the end of 1980 he went ashore to work for a while at Oskarshamn shipyard before starting to teach work environment at the Kalmar Maritime Academy. He has also read work environment science in Lund and has completed a course in protective technology in Göteborg.
Work journal almost devoid of environment aspect
During the 12 months of practice that officers without time at sea must spend onboard to obtain their qualifications, they take with them a work journal which they must fill in. The work journal is based on the ILO convention, which states what must be included in an officers’ training course. – But there is hardly any work environment in the work journal. It focuses very much on safety, but from a different perspective. The nature of practice onboard depends to a large extent on which ship students work on. Some of them are given a lot of work environment studies and are involved in safety committee meetings and safety rounds, while others hardly do any such work, says Per-Åke Kvick.