Seafarers’ health is of paramount importance for manpower sustainability
Crew health typically encompasses both the physical and mental aspects. If employers take a step further, it involves other facets. One of the forgotten ones is building an inclusive culture – offering a sense of belonging to every team member.
Holistic view of seafarers’ health
Employers would be gravely wrong to assume health involves just insurance dollars or good equipment for safety. Peter Hult of VIKAND Solutions, an American healthcare company specialising in the maritime industry urged the sector to adopt an integrated approach to seafarers’ health.
He wrote that positive results were observed from investing in pro-active health initiatives, citing from a few studies. “Publications, articles, and studies showed continued as well as increasing support for programmes investing in health and wellness, enhanced overall well-being amongst employees. This in turn drives engagement and productivity. There is humanity in taking care of people and profitability in doing it wisely,” he asserted.
Hult quoted the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) definition of health – as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. This places health beyond providing treatment for crew who are ill, simultaneously protecting individuals and employees from illnesses through preventive healthcare and wellness programmes.
Referencing a study from Wellable Inc, which proved the efficacies of companies’ investments in human sustainability and healthcare for their employees, Hult pointed the study described the advantages of different healthcare programmes. That included chronic disease management, fatigue, stress, mental health, and sleep management.
Another study from Linchpin examined the risk reductions and direct savings from investing in health and wellness programmes. Among these was a reduction in direct risks; stemming from 5 out of every 7 health risks being improved within one year. That translated to a 62 per cent decrease in health care costs; 56 per cent of employees present at work due to wellness programmes; and a 54 per cent increase in productivity. Considering its remote, and often in contained environments, return on investment (for seafarers’ health) in the maritime industry would be greater. There were countless incriminating studies proving the advantages of investing in seafarers’ health. Taking it at face value does not cut it, much less thinking of just in terms of insurance dollars.