Social interaction is a considerable part of seafarers’ wellbeing onboard, as it enhances the sense of belonging and helps crews maintain their morale despite being away from home. As part of its SEAFiT programme, SAFETY4SEA asked maritime experts to answer what they consider the most important factor impeding this social interaction onboard.
Let’s see what they said:
1.Increased workloads – Fatigue (40%)
Long hours of work often in hazardous and stressful conditions, and lack of quality sleep due to shifts can lead to fatigue and exhaustion. This fatigue can impair performance and proper judgement, making seafarers prone to mistakes and putting themselves, others and the environment at risk.
Apart from the safety risks, fatigue can lead to an overall feeling of exhaustion, which may not allow seafarers to find the energy to interact socially. Fatigue is often responsible for irritability, mood swings, and lack of patience, which can lead to difficulty in communicating and interacting with others. Finally, tired people have a lower attention span, concentration, and motivation, being unable to engage in meaningful conversations or participate in recreational activities.
How can crew fatigue be mitigated?
- Utilizing fatigue risk assessment and management systems to monitor crew performance
- Implementing strict rest and break policies that adhere to international regulations.
- Scheduling shifts and rest periods to ensure crew members have adequate time for rest and sleep.
- Offering periodic training and education to keep crew members engaged and mentally alert.
- Providing seafarers with access to mental health resources and support services.
2. New legislation and subsequent bureaucracy (16%)
Shipping is well-known as a paperwork-based and protocol-oriented industry. Bureaucratic procedures can be time-consuming and tedious, taking away from the time that could be spent engaging in meaningful conversations with other crew members. In addition, a continuous focus on monitoring regulatory compliance adds to seafarers’ everyday stress, leaving a limited appetite for relaxing activities and fun interaction.
3. Technology and Internet onboard (13%)
“Why socialize when I can watch a movie online?” When you are tired, it is always easier to skip social activities and spend this time in the comfort of your bed instead. In the post-covid era, Internet is a given like the air we breathe. Internet onboard is vital not only because it allows seafarers to stay connected with family and friends, but also because it allows them to access important updates and stay connected with the world.
However, seamless connectivity is still not a given onboard ships. Providing and maintaining the infrastructure necessary to provide reliable internet access while at sea is a considerable cost for operators, while internet has been accused of being a severe distraction for the ship bridge crew and a convenient excuse for seafarers to disconnect from their peers.
With appropriate guidelines and provisions, any potentially adverse effects of constant connectivity could be eliminated. Last year, seafarers’ groups won the right to mandatory social connectivity for crews –including internet access- but still not for free.
4. Remoteness from home and close friends/family (15%)
Being able to keep in touch with family and friends is not just a “nice-to-have”, it’s a basic human right. Family provides a sense of emotional connection and support, which can be hard to find when one is far away at sea. Without their loved ones nearby, seafarers may have fewer opportunities to socialize and communicate with people with whom they have a strong bond.
5. Lack of team bonding and team activities (16%)
Working onboard a ship means that you are away from your loved ones for some months of the year. This makes social interaction with colleagues more relevant than in any other workplace.
Encouraging get-together events and team-bonding activities helps create a sense of belonging, unity and trust between crew members while helping reduce feelings of isolation, stress, and boredom that they sometimes experience from working and resting in the same environment.
Team-bonding activities can be a great way for seafarers to have fun, get to know each other better, and build the relationships that are necessary for feeling well and being productive.
3 efficient social interaction ideas
- Group workouts: Working out with your mates can be a great way to bond and stay fit while at sea. Activities may vary from yoga class or HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) sessions to ping pong or sports Sunday.
- Movie nights: Watching movies with friends is better because the experience is shared. For example, watching a “bad” comedy with your colleagues can make you start laughing after you hear each other laughing. Similarly, watching suspense movies with others is great because you get to hear everyone’s reactions and be scared together.
- Group games: Board games, card games, or other group activities are always the safe choice for groups of people that are not necessarily close friends but wish to spend fun times together and meet each other better.
Leave a Reply