What is Important for Diverse Shipboard Team?

Credits: Mark-konig-unsplash

Proper attitude at sea is vital for a diverse shipboard team, highlights a Safety4Sea news source.

Positive and inclusive work environment

Creating a positive and inclusive work environment is crucial for the overall well-being and productivity of the entire team onboard. By fostering respect, open communication, and equal opportunities, male seafarers can contribute to a supportive atmosphere that boosts morale and enhances the overall performance of their women colleagues.

Seafaring profession is largely male- dominated. Women onboard passenger and cruise ships were primarily observed working in the hotel industry or travelling as the wives of senior officers until about 20 years ago. In the past, IMO had stressed that women are an ‘under-utilized and underdeveloped resource which could provide part of the solution to the problem of crewing the future world merchant fleets’.

A diversity approach to the workforce is founded on the premise that harnessing differences can create a productive environment in which everyone feels that they are valued and their talents and skills are being used optimally, and that this contributes to meeting the organization’s goals.

Few years ago, the Anglo- Eastern Ship Management joined forces with ISWAN, ICS and WISTA to compile a comprehensive booklet that addresses key priorities towards building and maintaining a diverse shipboard team.

Among others, the booklet emphasizes on demonstrating proper attitude. In particular, the attitude and behavior of male seafarers can have a significant impact on the morale of their women colleagues. When male seafarers exhibit respect and inclusivity towards their women colleagues, it fosters a positive work environment and encourages greater participation and contribution from the entire team. Conversely, if male seafarers display discriminatory or dismissive behavior, it can lead to decreased morale, reduced productivity, and even hinder career growth opportunities for women in the maritime industry.

‘’Our industry is diverse, dynamic, vibrant and innovative. We deal with the newest technologies, digitalization, new legislation and care for our environment. Our society is changing and so needs our industry, change starts with ourselves.”

We should treat our colleagues with respect and dignity, just like your want to be treated yourself. Respect needs to be earned, treating everybody equal and helping your colleagues out will increase the team productivity and shows true leadership

….stated Karin Orsel, ISWAN in the booklet.

Male vs female seafarers: Key considerations for life onboard

#1 Cabins

It is important to adhere to a proper protocol respecting individual privacy. As such, cabins should have a means of securing from inside for security when sleeping. A tag ‘Do not Disturb’ could be used.

This would ensure that seafarers, regardless of gender, have a safe and comfortable space to rest and maintain their privacy. Additionally, implementing a clear policy on respecting personal boundaries and privacy can help create a more inclusive and respectful environment for all crew members onboard the ship.

#2 Sanitary Bins

Make provisions for disposing of sanitary towels. To dispose of sanitary goods, special containers must be provided. A private and hygienic disposal method on board all vessels could greatly help to alleviate the unnecessary anxiety and humiliation felt by many women seafarers during menstruation

#3 Shoes, Boiler Suits, Raincoats and Parkas

Sizes for women should be made available for boiler suits, lifejackets, shoes, gloves, raincoats, parkas – as loose fitting clothing / safety gear pose a danger to the seafarer. Providing sizes for women in proper fitting clothing and safety gear is crucial to ensure their safety and prevent any potential hazards. It is important to recognize that ill-fitting gear can restrict movement and hinder a seafarer’s ability to perform their duties effectively. Therefore, offering a range of sizes that accommodate different body types will promote equal opportunities and enhance the overall well-being of female seafarers.

#4 Safety Harness

Harnesses are generally designed around the needs of men. The gender of persons working at a height where there is a requirement for wearing fall protection device is predominantly male. For example, where the harness design incorporates shoulder strap, waist belt and log loops that fasten around the thighs, the design has to allow for physical differences for both the sexes. In that regard, harness should be of a size that fits comfortably on women taking into account dimensional and physical differences.

#5 Heavy work and Physical capability

Focus on manual handling training is critical. Men and women need to work together in team during heavy work. Special equipment may be necessary and assistance beneficial. This can help to ensure that tasks are completed efficiently and safely, reducing the risk of accidents or injuries. Additionally, providing training and education on proper lifting techniques and teamwork can further enhance collaboration between male and female seafarers, fostering a positive work environment.

Furthermore, implementing regular safety inspections and equipment maintenance protocols can also contribute to a safer work environment. By regularly checking and maintaining the condition of lifting equipment, potential hazards can be identified and addressed promptly, minimizing the chances of accidents or injuries. Additionally, fostering a culture of mutual respect and equal opportunities for both male and female seafarers can create a supportive atmosphere where everyone feels valued and motivated to work together effectively.

#6 Illness / Injury/ Medical Treatment

Feminine hygiene products should be kept on board in bonded stores. Women should be able to access medical supplies when needed without having to consult a male colleague (e.g. menstrual medicines – pain killers). Overall, medical supplies should cover the needs of the entire crew and everyone should have access to medical care. In a recent interview to SAFETY4SEA, Ronald Spithout, Managing Director of VIKAND OneHealth, highlighted that access to medical care is both feasible and affordable for all seafarers.

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