Q. a) Discuss the rights and expectations of seafarers in relation to occupational safety as per Maritime Labor Convention.

b) What are the potential problems that can happen due to differences in age, gender, language, nationality and culture? What are the steps taken to reduce possible discrimination?


Under Title 4 Regulation 4.3 of MLC – Health and Safety protection and accident protection the purpose is to ensure that seafarers’ work environment on board ships promotes occupational safety and health and are directed towards flag state. Each member state shall:

1) Ensure all seafarers on board the ships of its flag are provided with occupational health protection and hygienic living, working and training environment.

2) Make national guidelines for management of occupational safety and health on board in consultation with ship-owners, seafarers organisations and regulations.

3) Adopt laws and regulations for addressing matters mentioned in code. Provisions for Occupational accidents, injuries and diseases. National guidelines should carry out assessment of risks and reduction of exposure on the following matters:

1. General and basic provisions.

2. Structural features of ship, including means of access.

3. Asbestos related risks.

4. Machinery.

5. Effects of extreme temperature of surfaces seafarers may be in contact with.

6. Effects of noise in workplace and accommodation.

7. Effects of vibration in workplace and accommodation.

8. Effects of ambient factors and tobacco smoke.

9. Special safety measures on and below deck.

10. Loading and unloading equipment.

11. Fire precaution and firefighting.

12. Anchors, chains and lines.

13. Dangerous cargo and ballast.

14. PPE for seafarers.

15. Work in enclosed spaces.

16. Physical and mental effects of fatigue.

17. Effects of drug and alcohol dependency.

18. HIV/AIDS protection and prevention.

19. Emergency and accident response.

b) Potential problems that can occur are as follows:

1. Intercultural co-operation, communication and language are the most important issues that contribute to maritime safety among multinational crews. For this:

  • More training in understanding the culture is required.
  • Better teaching of English language.
  • Human relationships and social interactions need to be improved.

2. When it comes to age, power distance and factors such as shame and respect for social status may have a negative effect on work safety.

3. Gender bias, such as masculinity brings weakness in relationships with other gender so teamwork will be less.

4. Some cases some provisions may be given to the other gender which may lead to groups formation of benefitted and un-benefited.

5. Language is one of the strongest elements in culture and leads to better communication. Proper knowledge will cause fewer accidents. Use of common language (English) is better than mother tongue as it prevents suspicions among multinational crews.

6. The root cause for a no. of accidents among multinational crew where human factor is involved are due to miscommunication, lack of social interaction, misconception, power distance and wrong stereotyping. Team leaders should develop strategies to prevent the above.

7. Cultural shock can be caused by differences in language, relationships, routines, food etc. and lead to anxiety and create constraints. To avoid this:

  • Follow adaptation and adjustment.
  • Understand other culture.
  • Put down ego identity.

8. Collective and individualistic culture: the latter tend to emphasize on the success of individual people, are outspoken and tend to impose on others. The former keep group goals as more important. They are less outspoken and tend to impose less.

9. Also important is the tone of voice used. An even toned individual when listening to widely modulated crew may view them as over bearing and emotionally out of control. To overcome this volume of voice, pausing in speech gestures and eye contact is important. Even in this moving heads may have different meaning in different cultures as is eye contact where it may imply negative implications such as intrusiveness and impoliteness.