People working in the shipping business fall in the top ten in terms of dangers they face. A job on a vessel is considered to be one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. Short-sighted people and the ones with a poor immune system face serious physical and mental difficulties. But what are the global challenges and dangers that seafarers face? What characteristics of captains and crews help to achieve a resolution of a problem?
- Last year, more than 200 pirate hijackings were recorded worldwide. It is a negative experience with a long-term psychological impact on the well-being and health of the seafarers. In most cases pirates hijack ships that are sailing off the Somali coast in the Gulf of Aden, so the best way to ensure security of the vessel is to simply bypass the extremely dangerous stretches. It is not an easy task, as this is the shortest route from Europe to Asia. The captain makes the crucial decision, such as passing the dangerous stretch at maximum speed, reporting the route to special authorities, etc. Crew members must remain alert and vigilant, follow the captain’s orders, remain united as a team and be on shift duty.
- Vibration, noise, electromagnetic waves. Vessel’s electrical appliances, motors, loud engines, sound signals and wind noise have a detrimental effect on the crew’s health. Over time, this results in circulatory disorders, auditory nerve disorders and heart problems. If not treated, these disorders often progresses to serious illnesses. Minor symptoms are aggravated by psychological problems and stress. How to deal with these problems? Proper use of the equipment in accordance with instructions and strict adherence to safety instructions (wearing special clothing, organizing work in advance and not exceeding working hours) can help significantly.
- Mental problems. More than 2,000 crew members lose their lives at sea every year. It should be noted that as many as 15% of deaths are suicides caused by psychological factors. Long months of separation from the family, monotony, lack of quality rest, diminishing social skills, physical changes (temperature differences, seasickness) – ir all affects the lives of the seafarers. Good habits and simple things like regular healthy eating, pleasurable physical activity, limited alcohol consumption, constant communication with the family using modern technologies and a positive attitude can improve one’s mental well-being.
- Storms and hurricanes. Difficult weather conditions are no news for seafarers, and it rarely has any significant consequences. However, weather forecasts should be carefully monitored and, if possible, severe and dangerous weather changes should be avoided. Most hurricanes can be anticipated, in which case the captain decides to follow a recommended route. Storms and the constant rocking affects the crew – they feel stressed, can not get enough rest, their bodies and minds are tense. In the event of an unexpected storm, the crew’s psychological preparation, resilience, available technical and self-defence skills and the ability to follow the captain’s orders play very important roles.
- Water transport. Maritime transport ranks second in terms of danger. Statistics shows that about 2 ships per week are irreparably wrecked or sink, with the largest number of them disappearing in the South China Sea. Common causes of catastrophes include poor visibility, hurricanes, unstable and bulky cargo and poor decision making in stressful situations. Safety is ensured by the attentiveness of crews and captains, proper preparation and wise actions including constant updating of navigational charts, close monitoring of the radar, practice of manoeuvring skills, constant improvement of the captain’s skills and compliance with the maritime rules.
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