New survey finds that changes brought about by decarbonisation had had a negative impact on seafarers’ workload.

A survey carried out by the International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN) and sponsored by The Shipowners’ Club indicates that the rapid changes brought about by decarbonisation technologies and regulatory regimes are having a substantial impact on workload, fatigue and stress levels at sea.

ISWAN conducted a survey between July and September 2023 to ask seafarers and others working in the maritime sector about the impact that the transformation brought about by decarbonisation is having on their work.

The survey received 400 valid responses from seafarers of 29 nationalities, as well as 55 responses from shore-based staff.

The findings indicate that there is significant support for the principles of decarbonisation amongst seafarers and shore-based staff.

In practice, however, the challenges of the journey to zero carbon are negatively impacting the wellbeing of many working in the maritime sector.

Amongst seafarer respondents, over half (53.8%) stated that changes brought about by decarbonisation had had a negative impact on their workload.

For 44% of seafarers, this was associated with an increase in levels of stress, whilst 40.1% reported increased levels of fatigue.

Almost a third of seafarer respondents (32.8%), reported that changes brought about by decarbonisation had increased their fears about potential criminalisation, as the complexity of current reporting regimes led to greater risks of inadvertent error.

Engineers were more likely than deck officers to report negative impacts on their wellbeing, with 34.4% of engineer respondents stating that decarbonisation was having a negative impact on their mental health, in comparison with 25.3% of deck officers.

Several engineers commented on the profound impact on their workload and stress levels of the requirements to switch frequently between different fuel types.

The survey suggests that the negative effects on wellbeing and workload are felt most strongly by engineers without a fixed trading pattern.