Compared with the condition ashore the working situation at sea is less conducive to maintaining good health status because shipboard opportunities for exercise are limited, living quarters may be cramped and the quality of the leisure time reduced depending on the shipboard circumstances (e. g. long working hours, monotony, long-time separation from the families, psychosocial problems). The ship management, as well as the shipping company, has some possibilities to improve the shipboard leisure time facilities as an important source of recreation. Well-being on board is essential for seafarer’s health promotion and depends e.g. on the shipboard organizational structure, such as the balance of working time and leisure time. Adequate recreation possibilities and sleep are essential for health and efficiency. Sleep requirements and habits may individually vary considerably but everyone requires unbroken periods of rest. According to the Maritime Labour Convention (2006) the maximum hours of work shall not exceed 14 hours in any 24-hour period and 72 hours in any seven-day period. The human dimension of shipping has been recognized as an essential contributor to maritime safety and to protection of the marine environment (15). IMO statistics reveal that 80% of accidents onboard cargo ships are caused by the human factor.

In total, seafarers should know about their possibilities for exercises on board and ashore and they have to take responsibility for their health within their special living and working environment on vessels.

International Committee on Seafarer’s Welfare (ICSW). Fit on board.                                    http://www.


Maritime Labour Convention 2006: