F.1.1 Introduction


Ergonomics, medical, psychological and behavioural science perspectives on seafaring align with each other, as all are person-centred. They are concerned with enhancing interfaces with task-based aspects of work, with threats from disease or distress and with interactions with other people respectively.  

This volume brings together a series of contributions, which consider key aspects of person-centred ergonomics, psychological and behavioural sciences approaches to some current concerns in maritime health. It also includes a section on health promotion, as this is heavily dependent on insights from the behavioural sciences.

The management of ships is a very old skill. There is an almost unique management structure.  Traditions relating to work at sea are very strong and they define the knowledge, responsibility and authority required. New systems and ways of working have to be introduced carefully and, in many cases, this is not done in a sympathetic way, leading to inefficiencies or sources of error.

The seafaring culture is complex involving maritime traditions, complex personal motivations, and multilingual, multi-cultural crews. National culture has a strong influence, especially in senior operational and engineering roles. Problem solving, conformance to procedures, perception of risk and response to emergencies are all influenced by cultural and psychological issues. More information on these topics is available in Ch. F.4. However, both onshore support for ships, their design and on-board equipment rarely takes account of these issues. Therefore, risks are built into maritime operations. Application of ergonomic principles at the design stage can remedy these shortcomings as outlined in the checklist later in this chapter.