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Title: Working conditions in seafaring international

Lecturer: Olaf Jensen, Center for Maritime Health and Safety, University of Southen Denmark,
Niels Bohrs Vej 9, 6700 Esbjerg, Denmark, Mail:
Co-authors: Stanislav Tomaszunas et al. Institute of Maritime and Tropical Medicine, Gdynia, Poland; ML
Canals et al. Sociedad Española de Medicina Marítima Spain; Michael Bloor et al. SIRC, Cardiff University;
Nebojsa Nicolic University of Rijeka, Croatia; Lilia Zvyagina, Odessa, Ukraine; Adolf Moser et al. Northern State
Medical University, Arkhangelsk, Russia; Hu Yunping, Department of Occupational Health, Fudan University,
Shanghai China; T. H. Pangemanan Klinik Rajawali Lestari Kondominium, Jakarta, Indonesia; W Arguelles et al.
Manila, Philippines; G. M. Rosendorff, Cape Town, South Africa.

Epidemiological studies in merchant seafaring are few and mainly done by use of national registers. There is a
lack of studies of exposure risk factors in international perspectives.

Aim: To describe important aspects of seafarers´ working environment.

Method: The seafarers used 5-10 minutes during the waiting time for the health examinations to complete a
small, anonymous questionnaire with questions concerning the latest tour of duty. Data were collected in 11
countries: Denmark (DK), the Philippines, Croatia, Spain, South Africa, Ukraine, Russia, United Kingdom United
Kingdom (UK), Poland, Indonesia and China. The questionnaire was on safety on board: (self-perceived safety,
knowledge of safety representative, exposure to chemical substances and the use of personal safety
equipment against chemical exposures). Injuries during the latest tour of duty were examined.

Results and discussion: The length of the latest tour differed significantly for the different nationalities. On
average 60-80 working hours per week and 80 % worked all the 7 days in the week.
Officers were 15-30% among the Philippines and Indonesian seafarers and 80% among the seafarers from
United Kingdom and Denmark. 80% of the seafarers from the UK and DK worked on ships from their own
nation while the Philippines and the Indonesian seafarers mainly worked on foreign ships.
Seafarers over 50 years of age were few among the eastern nationalities.
Nearly 9% of the seafarers were injured on the latest tour of duty. Slips, trips and falls were frequently involved
up to 50% of the injuries. Seafarers from the Philippines and Indonesia had lower incidence rates of injury. The
self-perceived health was generally good among the seafarers.

Discussion and conclusion:
Non-equity between the nationalities is remarkable. Slips, trips and falls are important risk factors. Many other
important health and safety risk factors in seafaring international needs to be studied for the risk prevention at
sea. The maritime health research is mainly done in a few centers in Europe, USA, Australia, China and in some
other countries but none in the developing countries where there also is a need for research. International
collaboration between the researchers could strengthen the impact of the research and contribute to the
improvement of the working conditions at sea.
Epidemiology, merchant seafaring, questionnaire, international, injury incidences, work conditions.

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