Tove Jangland: "The psychosocial work environment issues are the most difficult"

Tove Jangland at the Transport Agency sees one of her primary tasks as raising the status of work environment issues. – There is sometimes a certain resistance against taking on work environment issues, and certainly they can cost a little – but if we don’t do anything things will be even more expensive in the end.
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Tove Jangland at the Transport Agency sees one of her primary tasks as raising the status of work environment issues.
– There is sometimes a certain resistance against taking on work environment issues, and certainly they can cost a little – but if we don’t do anything things will be even more expensive in the end.

Tove Jangland
Tove Jangland

As a work environment official at the Transport Agency, Tove Jangland has a number of duties in her post. She accompanies inspections, participates in flagging meetings, approves applications for exemption and draws up directions on the work environment.
– I enjoy this job. Helping people to feel at home with their work and ensuring that they can carry out their duties safely way feels very important.
Tove Jangland had only worked at sea for one and a half years when she started with the Maritime Administration Authority. The step to working with the authority was not a difficult choice for her. When she was taking her education, she knew that she wanted to work in administration.
– My classmates in Kalmar used to joke about me wanting to work with the authority, and that was what I wanted all along. I have always been more of a theorist than a practical person and I enjoy reading, analysing things and solving problems.
Must have your own experience
Practical placements during her studies and her job as a captain at the ferry company were both necessary experiences for her current tasks at work.
– It is definitely an advantage to have experience from work at sea, and sometimes I’m not taken seriously until I explain that I am a qualified ship’s captain. The work environment at sea is so different from onshore jobs that you need to have worked there yourself before you can really understand how it operates.
The level of work environment activities onboard depends to a large extent on attitudes at the shore-based organisation, Tove Jangland has discovered. If the management of the shipping company is involved then things start to happen onboard, not least when it concerns systematic work environment activities.
– Birka Paradise, for example, has a DP [designated person] who is really engaged, and things work very well on the ship for them. The DP promotes work environment issues and calls us to ask for help. If, on the other hand, there is no real support from the onshore organisation, it is difficult for the crew to get good work environment activities going.

Tove Jangland
Age: 29
Lives in: Norrköping
Family: Mother, father, brothers and sisters, dog
Interests: Sailing and her dog
Background: Sea captain diploma, 2004 in Kalmar. The Ferry company from 2005 to 2007. Then the Swedish Maritime Administration, nowadays the Swedish Transport Agency.
Current job: Work environment official at the Maritime Department of the Transport Agency.
A good work environment is important because: People should feel good at work, and should not suffer injuries there.

Sometimes she feels it is an uphill struggle. It is clear that work environment issues are still low on many company’s agendas, and she says it is noticeable at flagging meetings, to give one example, that her questions are the most controversial ones.
– Sometimes you hear people say, ”These rules are not written for small ships”. No, I usually answer, they are written for people. Just because they happen to work on a small ship doesn’t mean that they don’t have the right to a good work environment.
Interest in the work environment among shipping employees also varies.
– Some call us and want us to come onboard to help them. Others think that the work environment is not particularly exciting, even though they should be interested. It concerns their everyday life and being satisfied at work.
The Superconvention will help
The most difficult issues to get recognized and to sort out are psychosocial questions, says Tove Jangland. Things that concern general well-being, relationships and feelings are a lot more difficult to handle than technical and practical problems.
– Sometimes shipowners feel that personnel onboard complain about all sorts of small things, despite the fact that there is nothing really faulty. It is often a sign of general dissatisfaction, though, and that people do not really feel good. So no matter what the complaints are about, the employer does actually have a problem to deal with.
The psychosocial issues can also be difficult to follow up.
– We can easily come back and measure a staircase after it has been widened. But checking how people feel and assessing the atmosphere onboard is a lot more difficult.
Tove Jangland looks forward to the day when the ILO maritime superconvention, the Maritime Labour Convention, comes into force. She believes that it will push work environment issues further up the agenda and give her and other officials more weight to their arguments.
– It will put forward clear demands, which I believe will be an advantage for us. It is also a good thing that work environment demands are raised internationally. Then we will be able to say that this is not a special Swedish requirement, but applies to everybody.
Linda Sundgren

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