According to classification, shipping jobs or working at sea has been classified as one of the ten most dangerous jobs in the world. Although as an outsider it might sound surprising (considering how people think of it as a “glamorous” job), ask a seaman and he would enumerate various difficulties attached with the job.
Careful examination of the prospective hazards makes one realize that this job is not for the weak-hearted, those who get homesick easily, or those who find it difficult to work in a harsh environment.
In every kind of profession, there are a variety of professional hazards to deal with and a person’s ability to perform any particular job is tested on the basis of his response to these hazards.
Similarly, there are ways to deal with the professional problems faced on ships and one shouldn’t be discouraged to take up an exciting and rewarding career in the merchant navy.
Strict physical fitness is of utmost importance as any kind of shipping job is quite enduring and the hardships that one usually faces cannot be coped with without a health condition that borders impeccability.
Ships are always in a state of motion be it the usual swaying movement or heavy rolling or pitching. This constant motion leads many to motion sickness which is not a very simple issue to deal with, even for those with the best sea legs.
Sea voyages expose the ship’s crew to extreme temperature and weather conditions especially during long journeys spanning many countries or continents.
Such long voyages take the ships to the bitter cold of Alaska or Scandinavia and also to the hot and humid conditions of the tropical region or the Persian Gulf.
A seafarer working on the ship should be fit enough to face any kind of weather and work in any kind of environment.
Accidents tend to occur frequently on ships and are a part and parcel of shipping jobs. The most frequent ones are often related to people falling into the sea, falling onto the deck, in the engine room, or from any of the ship structures while working. Moreover, there are large numbers of mechanical and electrical equipment on the ships deck and the engine room and they have to be used very carefully.
With the advancement of technology, ships now have several machinery systems and tools on board. Seafarers are thus required to deal with such complex and hazardous machinery on a daily basis.
The physical health of the seaman is at risk all the time because of the extreme toiling conditions. Long and continuous exposure to direct sunlight or harsh weather while working on the deck or extremely high temperature and noisy environment in the engine room can lead to health complications.
Long and close exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the ship’s radar and radio have also been noted as one of the reasons for health problems in the past. On some ships, the inner cabins and living quarters of the ships are not very airy and ventilated.
They are at times noisy and hot, which is a perfect condition for the growth of germs and only a truly healthy man with a perfect immune system can face it.
Although shipping companies take all the care possible for their crew and provides them with the best of what is available, it is the condition of the sea, the harsh and ever-changing weather, and continuous working hours, which make shipping jobs difficult.
A shipping job also attracts many psychological problems for those who can’t keep up with the hectic scheduling and lifestyles. Adding to them are professional politics and conflicts that arise between seafarers that make living onboard ships more difficult.