Crew welfare and seafarer human sustainability charter

Supporting Seafarers

January 25, 2023

By Peter Hult, CEO at VIKAND

Crew welfare and seafarer human sustainability charter

Small Interventions Lead to Big Changes in Crew Welfare Says VIKAND’s CEO Peter Hult

Crew Welfare is all about creating an environment where seafarers feel comfortable. Small improvements to the lives of seafarers onboard can make a huge impact on their overall sense wellbeing and morale, which in turn can benefit productivity.

But how do we create better crew welfare?

Most people immediately think about physical wellbeing, and while this is a very important component, real crew welfare includes a broad mix of mental, physical and social considerations.

However, let’s start with physical health. The age profile of the global population is getting older as medical advances help us live longer. Shipping is no different. Ship managers and owners need to manage seafarers with chronic illnesses, like diabetes or high blood pressure, as they cannot risk excluding personnel that may offer deep experience.

Ship operators may believe it’s expensive to implement fleet wellness programmes that encourage seafarers to exercise regularly and eat healthy, but it only takes small interventions to make big changes. For example, encouraging crew to drink more water by giving them all reusable water bottles is a simple and cost-effective way to make a positive health impact.

Regular exercise can help lower high blood pressure, reduce weight and can even assist with managing diabetes. Studies have also shown the mental health benefits of exercise, as it helps to reduce anxiety, depression, and negative moods by improving cognitive functioning and feelings of self-esteem.

While I am pleased to see that shipping has put more emphasis on mental health awareness, including 24/7 hotlines for seafarers to contact if they feel overwhelmed, our industry should be concentrating on preventing things from getting to such a crisis point in the first place.

VIKAND can help train masters and officers to recognise when a colleague is suffering mentally, and we can give them basic materials to help manage the situation or offer psychological support, if the need arises.

We believe health solutions should be cost-effective and easy to access, and with onboard connectivity more readily available, VIKAND can provide app-based solutions for everyday medical issues.

Similarly, with larger public health concerns like communicable diseases, VIKAND has been at the forefront of creating protocols and best practices to help limit and reduce transmission rates onboard. Our experience in the cruise sector has allowed us to adapt procedures for protecting hundreds of guests to crews in the commercial sector.

However, as I noted, crew welfare does not just cover the physical and mental health of seafarer. As a former seafarer myself, I know how much family concerns can prey on your mind when you’re spending months away from loved ones.

So, knowing that they’re taken care of with insurance solutions and health care services gives seafarers peace of mind, so they can focus on their jobs and not worry about their families while working at sea. It not only relieves stress but reduces onboard accidents, as their minds are fully on the job instead of distracted by problems at home.

Education is also key. This goes beyond regulatory seafarer training requirements, which are important and mandatory in many cases, and refers more to leadership training and changes in culture.

Many crews are multicultural, but we need to avoid biased attitudes and the forming of cliques, where certain crew members feel ostracised because of their nationality, sexual orientation or religious beliefs. It’s also important to continue supporting women to choose the maritime industry as their career of choice, as diversity in the workforce is a positive move.

Unfortunately, some attitudes still lie in the past, so education and training is vital to change longstanding ways of thinking and create a level playing field where everyone is treated with respect.

And finally, one of the critical dimensions of crew welfare is also food. I think everyone knows that if you have good food on a vessel and everyone eats together around a table, then you have a happy and contented ship. Everything starts with a good meal.

Crew welfare is about the whole seafarer experience onboard, and our aim at VIKAND is make sure that their experience is a positive one with our proactive total healthcare solutions.

With this in mind, we have launched the Seafarer Human Sustainability Declaration with like-minded maritime businesses. The aim of the Declaration is to encourage maritime businesses to work collaboratively to establish robust ecosystems that provide the best in healthcare, connectivity, insurance, working environments and payment solutions to seafarers and their families.

Read more information now about the Declaration.



Peter Hult, CEO at VIKAND

Peter Hult CEO at Vicand

Peter Hult CEO at Vicand


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