Seafaring is considered to be one of the most strenuous of occupations.
The seafaring community encounter a multitude of issues and challenges due to
the critical nature of their job. In recent years, the spotlight has fallen on specific
health issues among seafarers which have become a growing concern.
We examine some of the more common health issues that affect
the seafaring community.
HAVS or Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome Hand
Transmitted vibration or HAVS is one of the most common
health hazards that's found among the seafarers.
Operating power tools, for example, needle guns, hand-held
grinders and chipping machines generally cause this syndrome.
Prolonged exposure to power tools such as these may result
in HAVS that can lead to a permanent disability if it's not treated properly
and quickly. Some symptoms of HAVS include numbness, tingling of fingers,
blanching, and acute pain in the wrist and arm and can be distressing for the
or Cardio Vascular Disease
Compared to the general population, CVD is commonly found
among the seafaring community. The primary reason behind CVD is the hectic and
often stressful workload of the seafarers.
Other influencing factors include poor diet, stress, and
lack of exercise.
MSD or Musculoskeletal Disorder
Seafarers are reported to suffer from various disorders that
are mostly related to the skeleton and muscular structure of their body. Their
long working hours and round the clock schedules are the fundamental causes of
MSD. If not treated properly, the musculoskeletal disorder may turn into a
Officers and crew members have a continuous exposure to
various toxic substances, such as beryllium, lead, and cadmium.
Overexposure to these harmful substances leads to different
types of cancers, for example, renal cancer, lungs cancer, lymphoma, and
Compared to the general public, the seafaring community is more
susceptible to these deadly diseases.
& Epidemic Diseases
Seafarers can often be worldwide travellers visiting
numerous international ports. Whilst this can be exciting, it can also leave
the seafarer exposed to dangerous epidemic and pandemic diseases. A recent, and
high profile example is the Zika virus but other examples include malaria,
cholera, tuberculosis, and yellow fever.
Not only are such illnesses distressing for the individual,
if they become carriers who take such viruses home with them, the potential for
spreading the problem to family and friends is high.
(Hypertension, Stress, and Fatigue) Seafarers also suffer
from various mental health-related issues that can seriously impact their
Excessive stress, loneliness, smoking, fatigue, lack of
physical activity, and consumption of alcohol are the primary causes of their
mental health issues.
These are just 6 common health issues that are observed
among the seafarers.
Each of these health problems may lead to potentially
disastrous consequences if they are not treated in a timely manner. But, why do
such health issues occur? Well, the underlying reasons behind such health
problems are bad quality of sleep, extended work, lack of rest, long working
hours, heat, vibration, noise, restricted movement, social exclusion, climate change,
dehydration, and other factors.
To overcome these situations, the following five measures
can be undertaken.
• Work pressure needs to be balanced.
• The master & crew should be informed about various
epidemic and pandemic diseases before docking.
• Quality of life for seafarers needs to be improved.
• Seafarers should be trained about the common health issues
for an increased self-awareness. • Seafarers should be encouraged to regularly
visit a physician or medical supervisor so that a disease doesn't turn to a
We will examine these measures in more detail in our next
Remember Mayfair, We care
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"Seafaring stressors aboard merchant and passenger ships", Int J Public
Health, vol. 54, pp. 96-105, 2009.
2. A. Sliškovi?, Z. Penezi?, "Occupational stressors
risks and health in the seafaring population", Review of Psychology, vol.
22, no. 1–2, pp. 29-39, 2015.care