Understanding the Effects of COVID-19 on Seafarers - WMU Webinar

Understanding the Effects of COVID-19 on Seafarers is the topic of the latest WMU Alumni Webinar that took place on 26 November. The work of seafarers during the COVID-19 pandemic has been critical to ensure the global supply chain of essential goods and equipment. However, the recognition of seafarers as key workers is often being neglected, adding challenges to their regular occupational safety and health issues.

The webinar offered participants a unique opportunity to engage with a variety of international researchers who are examining the effect of COVID-19 on seafarers. Four panels explored the topic in terms of support needed by seafarers, job security and financial challenges faced by UK seafarers, qualitative analysis on social, physical, mental, and economic well-being of seafarers, and a comparative analysis of the COVID-19 effect on seafarers and shore-based personnel. 

Panel 1 was composed of a joint research team from four universities: the University of Queensland (Australia), Royal Holloway University of London (UK), the World Maritime University (Sweden), and Uppsala University (Sweden). The panel presented initial findings from a survey on the impact of COVID-19 on the well-being of international seafarers. Over 700 seafarers responded. A key finding is the importance of connectivity to their families as well as institutional support.

Panel 2 led by Solent University (UK) provided a preliminary analysis of their longitudinal survey of UK seafarers that highlights the impact of COVID-19 which was found to be unequally felt by seafarers depending on their employment terms and conditions.

Panel 3 led by the University of Zadar (Croatia) shared the results of a global study of 752 seafarers who stayed either on board or at home in spring 2020. The study reveals that prolongation of periods on board and at home represent serious threats to seafarers´ social, mental, physical and economic well-being.

Panel 4 led by Lloyd´s Register presented their industry-wide surveys during the COVID-19 pandemic, partnering with the UK Chamber of Shipping, Safety at Sea and Mission to Seafarers. The results highlight differences between the effects of the pandemic on seafarers and office workers. It reflects serious concerns over seafarer mental health, the effectiveness of organisations` support and the disease management and treatment of seafarers.

The webinar was moderated by WMU Associate Professor, Dr Momoko Kitada. A total of 447 participants from 50 countries, and all continents, registered for the event that was opened beyond WMU Alumni to general registration from the public.

A survey report from Panel 1 is available here.

To access the recorded webinar, click here.

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