In my opinion, we are so fortunate that in our industry we have a lot of passionate experts doing a lot of great work to enhance maritime safety by addressing human element issues. And as the expert said the human element is a complex, multi-dimensional issue, and we have big documents for search; we have organizations that tackle the human element with great expertise so I will not do all of that.

Let me tackle another dimension of human element that is something very basic and simple, yet not many are focusing structurally- something that we can all do proactively and not reactively.

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In our efforts to develop our seafarers so as to increase performance on ship operation, we focus on technical and behavioral issues; we use blended learning and a combination of classroom workshops, simulators, computer-based. But is anything missing that has an impact on the performance of our seafarers?

How many incidents on board have happened because the seafarer was sick or unwell? How many highly competent, highly experienced seafarers will not finish their work because of a family issue? How many incidents have happened on board because the seafarer is not focused, thinking about their financial obligations? And how do we tackle those kind of issues structurally?

What I would like to share with you, is a third dimension of developing our seafarers; life skills. Again, it is very important to focus on hard skills and soft skills, but in my opinion, in today’s generation, where our seafarer’s daily challenges are real time and online, it is equally important to focus on these skills.

Why include life skills? Because this is probably the most neglected part of human element but the one with the biggest impact and we want to establish life relationships not only work relationships. And more importantly, seafarers are human beings, not human doings and it is all about people.

So, there is human in human element.

When we asked our officers about the challenges that seafarers and family face, they came up with the following three: number one is improving family relations, number two is taking care of their health and number three is aspiring financial freedom; so, in short, they want to be happy, healthy and wealthy.

What we realized once again from this survey is that the definition of wellbeing is a state characterized by health, happiness and prosperity. Thus, these are the focus areas of seafarers’ wellbeing.

So, going to family relationships- our program objective is to empower families, to give them a proactive mindset, to give them tools family science beyond and yet practical information. So, what we do? We create family seminars, digital parenting, highly sought after program that we have- we have seminars for family club leaders, we have dedicated family counselors in the office and lastly, something I want to share with you, we created early this year a family care group with videos. Namely, we created five to ten members to the family gather once a month, the care group serve as extended community sport.

For a whole year, the topics that they all go through are enriching marriage, strengthening family communication and digital parenting, parent- child issues, marital intimacy, self-care in the family, undertaking extended families or their in laws; these are also topics that are coming from the family members.

Regarding the wealth issue; our financial wellness program is to equip the seafarers with financial principle, with tools and strategies. In particular, we have created interactive financial seminars- we have workbook, we have quizzes, we improve our company policy. I cannot teach them financial wellness and give them every month salary loans. So, they can have salary loans only for emergencies. Previously, five years ago, our seafarers could send 10 MPOs every month, 50 dollars to nephew, 10 dollars to niece, 5 dollars to mother in law and etcetera- we reduce it to 1 MPO per month; only for legal spouse. We also gave awareness on online banking for auto savings and investments and lastly, we also helped them by doing advance crew planning- our ambition is for the seafarers to know the whole month, the whole year what vessel, when, what, where they will go to the vessels so they can plan their own expenses and income as well.

And we know the issue of the Filipino when it comes to money, not because we are greedy, but we are just loving family members, we almost bring to school the whole community.

Lastly, which is I am very proud of is the health- so the health and wellness program is to empower seafarers to take care of their health; our tagline is “take care of yourself so you can take care of others.” For that purpose, we do health seminars; we have health and wellness hub so that that the seafarer can go anytime for free to talk to doctors and psychologists and even dentists. According to results, we reduced our repatriation cases related to sickness as of October, by 60% within the last two years.

Also, there is a mandatory attendance of health and wellness seminar during the pre-employment and there is a mandatory one-on-one with the holistic doctors. The difference with holistic doctors is that they treat the seafarer as a whole human being; we want seafarers to be responsible for their health; this is the main focus of our health and wellness program.

So, again and again, technical and behavioral skills for work-related training is hugely important to address the human element challenges on board. However, again, seafarers are human beings and now, more than ever, they need full support to develop their life skills; programs must be proactive not reactive; it must be continuous and structured, focused on long term-effects; it’s targeted not generic; involve the seafarers themselves, use facts and data and involve the experts. We involved psychologists, doctors to come up with this program with that- it is okay to do this or it is very nice to do this; we involve the experts; it is holistic approach; again, seafarers are human beings, not numbers.

And lastly, walk the talk, the company policies must support the initiative, so it is a call to action to all of you.

Above article is an edited version of Mrs Mailyn Borillo’s presentation at the 2019 SAFETY4SEA Manila Forum.

View her video presentation herebelow

The views presented hereabove are only those of the author and not necessarily those of  SAFETY4SEA and are for information sharing and discussion purposes only.


About Mailyn Borillo, Managing Director, OSM Philippines

Mailyn Borillo leads OSM Philippines as the first woman to Head OSM Maritime Services Inc as it’s President. She is also the first Filipino to head the OSM ROHQ as it’s Managing Director . She’s been in the company for 5 years now.

She has 25 years of  experience in International Shipping where she holds various leadership position in Vessel Operation, Finance, Technical Purchasing and Marine HR, in Philippines and in Denmark.

Prior joining OSM, She’s been with Maersk for 18 years. This is where she had an opportunity to worked in different facets of shipping.  She rose from the ranks, and headed  Maersk Filipinas Crewing from 2009 to 2011.

She also headed Torm Shipping Phil for almost 4 years. During her stint with Torm, Mailyn also had an opportunity to head the Global Purchasing Team and the Global Marine HR team.  In both departments, Mailyn headed teams in India and Denmark.

“I think it was the value of grit, perseverance, integrity, and most specially my desire to make an impact that brought me to where I am. I didn’t plan all this. I was just so blessed to be employed by a good company who I share the values with and surrounded by great people who were kind enough to share their knowledge and wisdom.

Mailyn also values the fact that in OSM, aside from promoting personal excellence, continuous improvement, automation and innovation, the real magic is having owners, leaders and colleagues who understand that their purpose is to create more jobs — meaningful jobs that improve the quality of countless lives.

“Coming from a very poor family, I never thought of the corporate ladder as progressive set of titles; I have always looked at it as opportunities to serve and make a difference.”

Mailyn is married to a former seafarer, now an educator and businessman, with one beautiful daughter taking up medicine.