IOSH voices concerns about seafarers

February 24, 2021

IOSH has called for increased efforts to protect the welfare of seafarers. According to the Body, concerns have been raised about hundreds of thousands of seafarers (considered “pivotal” in keeping trade flowing during the Covid-19 pandemic) being stranded at sea and unable to return home.

After a declaration calling for seafarers to be designated as key workers was signed by more than 300 firms and organisations, IOSH says there needs to be a cross-industry push to protect them.

IOSH points out that it has previously identified the need for more action to protect seafarers’ wellbeing, with research published with Cardiff University highlighting how long working hours, isolation and extended periods away from home puts them at risk of poor mental health.

Dr Ivan Williams, Policy Development Manager at IOSH, said: “Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, seafarers have been pivotal to keeping trade flowing. They have also made huge sacrifices to ensure the continuity of global supply chains. Yet hundreds of thousands of seafarers remain stranded at sea and exposed to extreme risk to their welfare.

“IOSH welcomes global collaborative efforts that recognise seafarers as key workers and contribute to build a more resilient maritime supply chain. We also encourage cross-industry alignment through initiatives such as the Neptune Declaration on Seafarer Wellbeing and Crew Change that puts maritime shipping safe operations in the spotlight and help to push forward the safety, physical and mental health of these frontline workers.”

According to IOSH, seafarers usually work on contracts of four to six months, working up to 12 hours a day, seven days a week. This is usually followed by a period of leave.

The IOSH/Cardiff research, which was published in November 2019 and well before the pandemic, urged cargo shipping companies to provide greater support for workers to help prevent conditions such as anxiety and depression.

However, the pandemic has led to travel bans being implemented by many governments, meaning seafarers are spending far longer away from home than normal.

This is valid as of 24th February 2021.

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