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Seafarers Hospital Society and Yale University announce landmark study of maritime worker health initiatives

The Seafarers Hospital Society (SHS) and Yale University are collaborating on a landmark study to determine the effectiveness of initiatives taken by shipping companies, charities and the wider maritime sector to keep seafarers healthy and safe.  This six-month study aims to review existing research and recommendations, identify current practices, determine their coverage across the industry and assess their perceived effectiveness.  Results of the study will be disseminated to the global seafarer community to encourage the adoption of best practice and improve seafarer health, safety and wellbeing.

Independent global charity Lloyd’s Register Foundation (the Foundation), which has a mission to engineer a safer world, is also working on the project to provide support and expertise in evidence collection with a specific focus on mental health and wellbeing.

Announcing the study today, Sandra Welch, Chief Executive Officer at SHS, said:

“We are delighted to be working with prestigious partners Yale University and Lloyd’s Register Foundation on such an important and ground-breaking study in this our 200th anniversary year. The Seafarers Hospital Society together with many other maritime welfare charities, has undertaken research and implemented numerous programmes aimed at improving the health and wellbeing of seafarers.

At the same time, shipping companies have introduced programmes and adopted practices with the same aim. But no-one has looked across the board at who is doing what and how effective they have been. This study aims to address this gap in our collective knowledge and understanding so that best practice can be identified and the most effective practices adopted across the maritime sector.”

The study will be led by Martin Slade, Director of Research, Yale Occupational & Environmental Medicine and Director of Yale University Maritime Research Center. Dr Slade said:

“This is an important new study that will allow the maritime industry, which employees 1.5 million workers, to implement specific practices to help ensure the health and safety of its workforce.”

Olivia Swift, Senior Programme Manager at the Foundation added:

“There’s a unique culture in seafaring involving long hours, dangerous working conditions and social isolation – all of which can, and do, threaten mental health. While the crewing crisis and other effects of the pandemic have weighed heavily on seafarers, this is an issue that existed before the pandemic and is likely to continue afterwards despite many initiatives to tackle this very problem. We want to find out how these long-term structural factors can be addressed based on companies’ experience of what actually works in practice.”

Working alongside SHS and Yale, the Foundation will be hosting two virtual round table meetings on Tuesday 29th June and Thursday 15th July, where shipping companies, policy makers and maritime welfare organisations can share their perspectives on seafarers’ mental health and wellbeing. Topics will include training, living conditions, interpersonal factors and work demands, and Chatham House rules will apply.

To find out more and to register your interest, please email olivia.swift@lrfoundation.org.uk

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