Q2 2020: How Happy Are You About Health and Fitness

  • 6.35 down from 6.50

The issue of being “fit and healthy” begins to take on a very different meaning during a pandemic, and seafarers spoke out about some of the difficulties they have faced in the past three months in keeping their vessels clean and themselves free from infection.

Not unsurprisingly this section of the Index also saw another fall in the figures, which built on a steady previous downward trend. A number of seafarers told us of the confusion and conflicting guidance they were receiving on protection against COVID-19. There were many difficulties to overcome, and often contradictory realities to juggle and manage.

There was much frustration voiced too, and issues like ships receiving multiple visitors from ashore were upper most in the problems. As one seafarer stated, “How are we meant to keep ourselves free from a virus when so many immigration officers come onboard?” There were multiple responses which highlighted the issue of trying to manage too many visitors, and the problems of keeping in control.

Technical issues too were raised when it came to protecting against the virus, and vessel air conditioning systems were deemed to be a potential health hazard. “The whole crew is breathing the same air, and if one becomes ill, I fear for all of us”. This was particularly a problem where crews were informed of the need to try and keep some form of social distance between themselves and others who came onboard.

Other issues related to health were especially frustrating to crews, and especially where instructions or well-meaning guidance was impossible or difficult to apply. “My company tells me to wash boiler suits after each watch, but fresh water is rationed so I cannot”, which illustrates the reality of trying to do the right things when even the smallest details are not considered.

One seafarer summed up the mood, “the best we can do is to do our best, but no-one knows if that will be enough”. Which also suggests the mental stress and pressure of constantly trying to remain head of the virus for months on end, never knowing what the next day may bring.

Health is also about getting the right treatment when illness or accident hits, and it was clear from seafarers that either they were not getting access to shore treatment or were concerned about how they would be treated. One seafarer summed the mood up of many by saying, “I have needed the dentist for the past three ports but am not allowed to get ashore. How can this be fair?”. How indeed?

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