Crew wellbeing pays off, owners told

Crew wellbeing seen as central to running a good business in a quality environment.

Ensuring the wellbeing of crew brings business benefits, speakers told the Sailors’ Society Wellness at Sea conference on 16 March.

In the opening speech, Stuart Rivers, CEO of Sailors’ Society, said, “Not looking after crew is costly and will hit your bottom line at some point. You have a duty of care to the seafarers you employ. There is a need to spread this message far and wide to equip seafarers for the challenges they might face at sea.”

Meanwhile, Paddy Rodgers, CEO of Euronav, joined calls at the conference for shipping to deal with and confront all aspects of wellness as a responsible, modern industry.

“The idea [that shipping can] somehow ignore mental health or aspects of looking after crew as ‘not our business’ is completely and utterly ridiculous. Who are we leaving it to: the captain, chief engineer, a colleague, a roommate? They will have to engage and deal with the problem without us supporting or equipping them in any way. It is negligence and costly. This is not an argument about altruism; it is about enlightened self-interest.”

Rodgers added, “Wellness at sea is not a bolt-on” but is “central to running a good business in a quality environment”.

The need to spread this message outside the conference to other shipowners was noted by a number of attendees, including Drew Brandy, senior vice-president of maritime market strategy at Inmarsat, who said, “It is not about legislation alone, but [about] a culture and mind shift in the industry. Part of that is in understanding the financial impact.”

Rivers stressed there was no silver bullet but “there are some really good programmes, like Wellness at Sea and others”, that can help shipowners to look after crew wellbeing.

The Sailors’ Society Wellness at Sea app focuses on a holistic view of ‘wellness’, maintaining social, emotional, physical, intellectual, and spiritual wellbeing. Rivers said that, so far, the app had helped to train more than 4,000 crew of all ranks, with 1,800 online students undergoing training and more than 100 trainers delivering wellness at sea training.