“It’s all about people” – this was the fundamental message describing the role of Seahealth, a private organisation serving the maritime industry, from its managing director Connie Gehrt, to an invited group of members of WISTA Denmark.
Ms Gehrt and her colleagues showed the visitors around Seahealth’s new headquarters, in Rødovre, an urban area accessible from the centre of Copenhagen.
Seahealth moved to the premises in December 2015 (12 months previously to the Dec 6 2016 WISTA event), and shares what Ms Gehrt said were “these wonderful new facilities” with the Danish Government’s Seamen’s Service and the Library for Seafarers. The Seahealth team thus took the opportunity to introduce members of WISTA (Women’s International Shipping & Trading Association) to each organisation and its services.
In an overview, Ms Gehrt said that Seahealth, established in 1993 by law, is an independent non-profit making body. Designed to support Danish-flagged ships, the organisation had won an international reputation which meant that seafarers and shipowners worldwide accessed Seahealth’s know-how and services.
The aim was to enhance the health, safety and wellbeing of seafarers, through improving knowledge, providing industry guidance and tools and specific advice.
Seahealth consultants were working in areas of accident, physical hazard (including chemicals, noise and ergonomics), wellbeing (for instance leadership, conflict handling and crisis management) and health.
Ms Gehrt said that clearly seafarers were not doctors, but could be provided with such support as the Medical Guide (accompanied by ebook, website and 17 instruction films) authorised by the Danish Maritime Authority with financial support from the Danish Maritime Fund. Published by Seahealth, the publication is part of the vision to develop a practical and useful medical guide for international seafarers.
The Seahealth managing director said that her organisation is led by a management board consisting of six representatives of shipowners and six from seafarers.
Ms Gehrt was joined by Anne Ries, senior occupational health consultant, for a presentation on bullying and harassment.
After outlining the nature of the problem, Ms Gehrt and Ms Ries drew attention to the European Community Shipowners’ Associations and the European Transport Workers Association guidelines and movie tackling the issue.
The International Chamber of Shipping and the International Transport Workers’ Federation had issued similar guidance. In the latest edition of the Maritime Labour Convention a reference to the international has been added to regulation 4.3.
A presentation of the Seamen’s Service (Handelsflådens Velfærdsråd) by chief executive Søren Philip Sørensen drew attention in addition to its Danish responsibilities to “how we comply with international ratifications regarding service to non- Danish flagged vessels.
The Danish Government’s Seamen’s Service was founded in to secure seafarers’ welfare in Denmark and abroad. Mr Sørensen said that the service is for all seafarers in Danish-flag vessels irrespective of their nationality – and services foreign-flag vessels in Danish ports to meet international obligations. Assistance is rendered to abandoned seafarers in Danish ports.
Services include providing movies and TV, books from the Maritime Library, news service (electronic and printed papers), sports on board and ashore, and ship visits, the last mentioned being more and more important. The service had representation in Copenhagen, Rotterdam and Port Said. The Seamen’s Club in Brielle, in the Rotterdam area, was for those serving on Danish- flag vessels only.
Mr Sørensen referred to the “Fit4Sea” programme which included on board exercise, and the disciplines of running, cycling, rowing, cross training and weight training. There were individual and inter-ship competitions. “Everyone can participate and have fun and be healthy at the same time,” he said.
The Seamen’s Service and Seahealth planned to become one organisation, with the focus remaining “on the basic needs for the seafarers – meet them where they are.”
The evening was rounded off by networking and a splendid dinner.
Irene Rosberg, president of WISTA Denmark, said later: “Ms Gehrt and Mr Sørensen and their colleagues are doing vitally important work. This was a great opportunity to learn at first hand at their impressive headquarters more about their services to the industry. We were given a first-class welcome.”