For the work environment and safety at sea, 2013 has been an eventful year. Swedish ships were allowed to employ armed guards in the pirate infested waters off Somalia. The question had been discussed backwards and forwards by the government for at least two years and there were many who were very pleased about the decision when it was finally made. When I met Wallenius Marine’s DP, Peter Jodin, at the beginning of November, he said that things had worked very well with guards on board so far. On one occasion a pirate boat had come level with one of their ships, but it was sufficient for the guards to show themselves on deck for the pirates to disappear. In 2013 the number of pirate attacks has fallen significantly. According to researchers at the Swedish National Defence College who have studied developments in the region, this is due mainly to three factors: increased stability in Somalia, better protection on board and a military presence. The five million kronor that AFA Insurance had set aside for two research projects on the work environment at sea last year have now been released. One study is about producing a method for investigating the indoor environment on ships. The second project is studying how people who handle gassed containers in ports are affected.
Another major event is, of course, the entry into force of the international labour convention, the MLC, which is also the theme of this issue. The convention is like a seafarers’ Bill of Rights, and constitutes the fourth pillar of the regulations that govern environmental and safety work at sea. It is now up to all involved to administrate the convention in the coming years, and to give the text the teeth it needs to really bring about a change.
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