Ship construction and repair have been industrial activities for many years. Ships have long been used by humans as a means of transport for goods or people, for discovery or invasion purposes. The distinction between the civilian and military aspects of these activities has often been made. Historically, the major centres for construction and repair have often been linked with military activity, and were developed in Europe, later in North America, and later still in south-east Asia and India. In 1998, the proportion of worldwide naval construction and repair taking place in South Korea, Japan and China rose above 80%. In Western Europe, the sector has one or two large players per country, and a multitude of small and medium-sized companies. In 1999, 182 firms in the EU had fewer than 1,000 employees, 17 had between 1,000 and 2,000 employees, and the 28 largest shipyards had a total of 64,000 workers[1].

Within this sector there are many career types, such as engineers, boilermakers, welders, pipefitters, ship painters, and each type of worker is exposed to multiple risks, mainly physical and chemical, and these will be described in this chapter.


[1] The Shipbuilding and Ship repair sectors in the candidate countries : Poland, Estonia, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovenia. Final Report PSE/99/502333.