Presenting at Crew Welfare Week (20 to 22 June 2023), Sandra Welch, CEO of the Seafarers Hospital Society (SHS), offered seafarers advice on how to empower themselves via a holistic and preventative approach to physical health and wellbeing.
he focus of Crew Welfare Week is ensuring wellness onboard, aligning perfectly with SHS’ aims to keep seafarers fit to work at sea and fit in retirement. In this endeavour, preventative care is essential for good health. Seafarers can better care for themselves if they are more aware of how to prevent or mitigate the effects of illnesses such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal injuries, etc.
Working at sea is physically demanding and the number of work-related injuries are considerable. Preventative exercise is an extremely effective method of preventing chronic injuries. Onboard access to physiotherapy may be difficult, and so SHS has designed a series of online preventative exercise videos that require a minimum of space and equipment for seafarers.
Oral health matters
Working at sea can make it difficult for seafarers to ensure regular dental appointments. SHS’ core message is once again prevention: encouraging seafarers to have good oral hygiene.
Dental hygiene tips:
- Brush Teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste.
- Clean between teeth using floss or interdental brushes.
- Reduce sugary intake and anything that can potentially be harmful to oral health such as smoking or alcohol.
The World Health Organisation ranks cardiovascular disease as the leading cause of death. Every year, around 100,000 people are admitted to UK hospitals owing to heart attacks. This amounts to approximately one every five minutes. It is estimated that 7.6 million people in the UK live with heart or circulatory diseases. So heart health is important.
Common cardiovascular disease symptoms are hypertension, high cholesterol, and atrial fibrillation. These in turn can lead to heart attack, strokes, heart failure and even death. The chance of suffering from heart disease is affected by many risk factors which include smoking, diet, excess weight, stress, inactivity, and alcohol abuse.
The good news is that illness and death from these conditions is often preventable if the individual follows a healthy lifestyle.
Quitting smoking, reducing alcohol intake and maintaining a healthy weight are well-established preventative measures for heart disease. In addition, seafarers often say that they exercise a lot as their jobs are physically demanding. However, proper exercise means actively taking care of the body, building up muscles and ensuring no development of repetitive strain injuries.
Taking prescribed medication and ensuring regular health checks are a great combination to stop an injury or illness from further developing and minimises risk significantly. This ensures cardiovascular disease can be found and handled before causing serious damage.
The above article has been edited from Sandra Welch’s presentation during the 2023 Crew Welfare Week.
Explore more by watching her video presentation below
The views presented are only those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of SAFETY4SEA and are for information sharing and discussion purposes only.