In a meeting held in Geneva on 13-17 October, guidelines to the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 were discussed, involving a total of 102 delegates. The guidelines are aimed at assisting governments in implementing occupational safety and health provisions previously set down by the MLC.

The OSH guidelines, which are intended as supplementary practical information which, will be reflected in national laws and other measures, will deal directly with special maritime working environment. Factors included are demanding physical working conditions, potentially hazardous, isolation, long hours of work, rigid organisational structures and high levels of stress and fatigue.

All areas of seafarers’ occupational safety and health, including areas such as alcohol and drug abuse, violence and harassment, and infectious disease were discussed. Delegates included six government, six shipowner and six seafarer experts, observers and advisers from 42 other governments and observers from inter-governmental organisations and non-governmental organisations.




In a statement to the media, Julie Carlton, head of Seafarer Safety and Health Branch at the United Kingdom’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency, said, “We are pleased to have agreed these guidelines for competent authorities on the implementation of this important aspect of the MLC, 2006. The final document provides flexibility without compromising on standards of occupational safety and health to protect seafarers, and will be a useful resource for those setting up or reviewing their OSH frameworks in compliance with the MLC, 2006.”

The ILO has estimated that 6,300 people die every day as a result of occupational accidents or work-related diseases, adding up to more than 2.3 million deaths per year. Costs can be devastating to workers’ families and their communities, while the economic burden of poor OSH practices is estimated at 4 per cent of global gross domestic product each year. 

In their concluding document, experts said the OSH measures “should not be seen as an economic cost but as an investment to continuous improvement to the safety and health of seafarers.”