During a virtual conference held by Safety4Sea as part of its Crew Welfare Week, Safetytech Accelerator’s Commercial Director Gabriele Dado, and other industry panelists, discussed how shipping companies were exploring options for improving seafarers’ wellbeing.

Established by Lloyd's Register and the Lloyd's Register Foundation, Safetytech Accelerator is passionate about the role of technology in increasing safety and decreasing risk in industry.

Dado explained that Safetytech Accelerator was exploring several initiatives for improving seafarers’ wellbeing using technology. One of these is a mobile phone app that uses visual and audio analytics to get regular updates on seafarers’ emotional wellbeing.

“[These technologies] use AI to detect speech and behavioural patterns which can tell us whether a crew member is fatigued, distressed, lethargic, or about several other markers which could indicate a mental wellbeing issue. So,we’re bringing pro-activity into the vessel, using technology as a facilitator.”

Dado believes that such initiatives will help seafarers to feel valued and that their experience at work is important.

“When your mind is at peace because you can provide for your family in safety, when you have a good career path, everything follows, people start behaving pro-actively, and this is massively important for (ship) safety and operational performance,” added Dado.

Safety4Sea’s Founder and Managing Editor, Apostolos Belokas, opined that while the Maritime Labour Convention offers guidelines on seafarers’ minimum living standards, the industry could do more to enhance the crew’s physical and social wellbeing.

Columbia Ship Management’s Group Director for Crewing and Training, Captain Faouzi Fradi, said that his company is working with several vendors and partners to offer technological solutions to improve the welfare of the company’s seafarers.

Telemedicine is one of the services offered in the welfare package, which includes nutrition planning, hygiene management and onboard education. Capt. Fradi explained: “We try to put all this in one package, under one management so we have sustainable solutions.”

Dado however, elaborated that what pleases one seafarer may not be the same for others, and this is where technology could help get clearer information.

“With this particular technology, what we get is exposure to many more accurate data points. We can collect feedback from seafarers by asking specific short questions throughout the shift. This gives us insight; it gives us live data and that’s important because companies can act on that data quickly. Then it is up to the company culture and up to us as an industry to come together and decide what we want to do with this data?”

Dado added that fatigue is often an issue for seafarers because they are incentivised to work overtime, but then the lack of rest may impact on their judgement and mental wellbeing if not correctly managed, and these have repercussions for safety.

Technology could therefore highlight whether these seafarers feel valued and satisfied however, the maritime industry’s stakeholders must be prepared to act on feedback.

Dado emphasised the importance of shipping companies taking action on the data they receive: “Technology allows us to get insights but are shipping companies ready to act on insights? Are they ready to take action? Does their culture support taking ownership towards change? When these questions are answered with a unanimous yes, our industry is ready to move forward. If not, these technologies can only remain as ideas.”

You can find out more about Safetytech Accelerator’s work in crew wellbeing here: https://safetytechaccelerator.org/tag/crew-welfare/

Crew wellfare webinar participants