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1.9Long-term sickness due to mental health problems is most frequent among service personnel on passenger ships. This is shown by the preliminary results from an ongoing work environment study.

Service personnel on board ferries often have a stressful work environment. The pace is fast and many of the tasks include heavy work, and at the same time you are supposed to be social and friendly and provide passengers with the best possible service. Service personnel are also those on board who have the highest rate of sick leave, both short-term and long-term (60 days or more).

Since just over a year ago, a research study has been carried out to look in more detail at service personnel’s work situation, with a particular focus on psychological health. The study is being carried out by Cecilia Österman and Carl Hult at Linnaeus University in Kalmar, in collaboration with the Social Insurance Agency’s maritime office in Gothenburg.

”When we compare the sickness diagnoses in different departments, we see that service personnel have highest proportion of diagnoses that are linked to the psycho-social work environment,” says Carl Hult, and continues:

”If we compare the diagnostic distribution within service personnel the differences are small, but those working in the hotel department show the greatest proportion of such diagnoses, followed by the kitchen and restaurant departments.

Just like in other sectors in society, in maritime transport it is young women in particular who suffer from psychological problems. According to the on-going study, this category of sick leave is most common up to the age of 30, and then gradually decreases with age.

”Through other research we know that those who have demanding work with little chance of controlling their situation at work more often feel worse psychologically compared with others,” says Cecilia Österman. Perhaps this aspect is clear in our results.

The study also shows that the total number of personnel on sick leave has decreased in the shipping industry in the last few years, from nearly 500 in 2011 to just over 400 in 2014. Whether this is due to onboard personnel becoming healthier or ships sailing under another flag, meaning that there are fewer seafarers working under the Swedish flag, has not yet been established. The survey includes statistics from the Social Insurance Agency, such as questionnaires and in-depth interviews. SAN News will continue to monitor the project, which is going to hold a workshop in the autumn to analyse the results. A final report is planned for the end of the year.

The study is being funded by the Swedish Mercantile Marine Foundation.

Linda Sundgren

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