Whether you believe it, or not psychological risks exist in every workplace and the maritime industry is no exception.

Before I get into this topic I have to admit that it is one close to my heart as I’ve lost many friends and a few family members to suicide, most of which were in the maritime industry so…please take it seriously!

In maritime there are a number of contributing factors based on what sector you operate in, a few of these you may recognise…

  • extended time away from home
  • adverse (bad) weather
  • poor catch rates for fishing operators
  • increasing closures for commercial operators
  • low prices for fishing operators
  • unhappy and/or complaining passengers
  • increasing restricted zones for charter operators
  • ever increasing governmental requirements
  • marine incidents
  • alcohol/drug abuse

The above list was prior to COVID-19 which has added extra pressers on operators including…

  • potential business failure due to restrictions
  • limited numbers for charter operators
  • crew movement from interstate
  • issues with working between various states
  • further low prices for fishing operator’s

If you think that these issue only affect owner’s you need to think again! Crew members can suffer from these issues which then has the potential to led to psychological distress.

Here’s a few stats from a National Health Survey conducted for the year 2017 to 2018.

  • Around one in eight (13% or 2.4 million) adults experienced high or very high levels of psychological distress
  • One in five (20.1%) or 4.8 million Australians had a mental and behavioural condition
  • 2 million Australians (13.1%) had an anxiety-related condition
  • One in ten people (10.4%) had depression or feelings of depression

Now if you take into account COVID-19 these numbers increase significantly.

Work is a big part of our lives and continually changes. It is in everyone’s interest to understand, to be proactive and to actively support people (this includes crew members) whatever the original cause or trigger.

While most people can recognise they have a problem, be it anxiety, depression or at worst suicidal tendencies they usually fail to seek help.

It’s up to everyone and in particular owners, managers and Masters to be actively involved in addressing mental health issues in the workplace.

The problem is generally due to a lack of understanding, lack of training and lack of support for workers (including crew members) experiencing mental health issues.

The good news is that it doesn’t need to be hard and doesn’t always require qualifications or massive programs.

By simply having a work environment where people feel safe to talk about psychological health, to raise things and to have conversations is the key.

Talking about these things helps everyone understand they are not alone, and it can reveal solutions.

Leaders in the field report that a psychologically healthy workplace is where an organisation:

  • Establishes trust and respect amongst its members;
  • Values employee contributions;
  • Communicates regularly with its employees; and
  • Takes employee needs into account when creating new initiatives.

We should also add to this list “good work design” as the way our work is designed affects how we feel about our job and can influence whether we feel motivated, engaged, bored or stressed at work.

When we all share the knowledge, have some skills and abilities to detect signs and symptoms around psychological health and offer the appropriate support everyone benefits including the organisation!

Also note that under Work Health and Safety a business owner/operator has the primary duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, workers and other people are not exposed to psychological health and safety risks arising from the business or undertaking.


Shorlink’s Recommendation

Our primary recommendation is to take the time to understand psychological health, especially if you’re a non-believer as it may save not only someone’s life but also your business. Psychological distress can cause serious workplace accidents which have the potential to cause serious financial and emotional issues for all parties and… they may have been avoided

Take the time to be able to identify the signs of psychological distress and how to initiate a conversation with that person not only for that person but yourself as well!


Tip

If you or someone you know is with or you think they may be suffering from psychological distress including anxiety, depression or suicidal thoughts urge them to contact a health professional.

Beyond Blue call 1300 22 46 36
Lifeline: 13 11 14

If you’re unsure about what to do or just need to talk about your situation don’t hesitate to contact Wayne directly on 0423 313 790 as he have considerable experience in this area and is here to help!

While all of us are feeling the impact of the pandemic to some degree many are suffering more than others and it’s those that I would like to dedicate this newsletter too.

 

 

We know tourism operators and commercial fishers have been doing it tough along with all other sectors of the industry and everyone in maritime sympathises with them.

Here’s an insight to the reality for some and also what we’ve been dealing with over the last months:

A client who was also a friend operated in the tourism sector and was solely focused on the international marketplace with a very successful operation. With the onset of Coronavirus his market totally dried up and as a result the business went into bankruptcy.

This left the crew and shore-based staff out of a job. Due to the business failure and having to put off all his staff he suffered a major breakdown and sometime later took his own life. A tragic end to a wonderful person.

Another client whose market was structured around exporting high grade product and whose business has all but closed down as the local (domestic) market is not able to support his product also had a major breakdown.

People asked him why he didn’t simply target the domestic market, but the reality is that the price local people are prepared to pay is significantly less than the overseas market pays. This makes the business unsustainable based on domestic prices.

This became to much for him as he had to lay off all the crew members, process staff and administration employees leading to him attempting suicide but was found in time, luckily!

And more recently, I was advised of another case similar to the one above which adds to the already growing list of people and businesses we are personally aware of.

While tourism numbers have been restricted but are increasing and prices have declined for commercial fishers – we are still able to operate in those sectors unlike some as those outlined above.

I’m asking everyone to just be grateful for the fact that they are still operational, even if not as before due to passenger numbers and seafood prices being down and other impacts of COVID-19.


Shorlink’s Recommendation

If you, or anyone you know is suffering badly due to the current situation please seek professional help immediately as your life is worth much more than your business or vessel.

The Coronavirus has been the cause stress including anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts and even suicide so please contact your Doctor or call:

Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636    or    Lifeline: 13 11 14

Tip

If you’re unsure about what to do or just need to talk about your situation don’t hesitate to contact Wayne directly on 0423 313 790 as us here at Shorlink, are always here to help!

Operators are under pressure like never before and just keeping up with business and operations is hard let alone trying to keep your SMS and  crew training requirements up to date.

We’ve developed a unique range of managed services to take the stress, worry and time involvement away from you and free up your time and focus on what you need to.

Something to remember is…just because you tick the AMSA box doesn’t mean you have the adequate legal protection when you need it most and that’s where we come in.

Our managed service options start with complete management of your SMS and related documentation and allow you to add in other services to provide a comprehensive management plan.

SMS Management

Shorlink’s SMS Management is designed to get your SMS compliant and make sure it stays that way.

The basic service includes:

  • Ensuring all crew and other staff are inducted into your SMS
  • Monitoring AMSA for changes relevant to your vessel and operations
  • Updating your SMS where required and updating the Revisions and Review Log
  • Undertaking Annual Reviews and completing the Revisions and Review Log
  • A review of induction documents
  • A review of training records
  • A review of follow-up documents
  • A review of your vessels Log Book
  • Communications with AMSA where required in relation to your SMS

This is a very cost-efficient service that takes the worry away from you about keeping your SMS up to date and compliant at all times.

Professional Maritime Consultancy

Add a set number of hours for maritime consultancy into your plan to suit your requirements. Clients are using this for specific advice and especially where marine incidents are involved. Include hours relevant to you in your plan and get 10% of the current rate or you can pay as needed and receive a 5% discount.

Safety and Wellbeing Consultant

We are providing a highly recognised service for Safety and Wellbeing that can be linked into your maritime consultancy. We act as an external Safety and Wellbeing Consultant where crew members can contact us for advice and support. This is being recognised as a major incentive by WorkSafe and AMSA for organisations of all sizes.

Emergency Response Training

Include any of our specialised emergency response training services into your plan to take even more stress away from you.

Onboard “vessel specific” training (drills)

Designed to ensure your crew have the practical knowledge and skills to handle onboard emergencies. These sessions include

  • Identification and location of all safety and firefighting equipment and appliances
  • Identification, location and operation of all fuel and air shut offs
  • Location and use of engine room fire suppression systems
  • Launching life rafts or Karley Floats
  • Dealing with onboard emergencies
  • In-water survival techniques

This is a valuable service that takes the worry about training requirements and are they being meet and a service that many of our clients are already using.

Hands on distress flare and fire extinguisher training

We provide hands on training in the use of distress flares and portable fire extinguishers where all participants activate a distress flare and portable fire extinguisher. This is all undertaken under the supervision of one of our experienced maritime trainers.

Shore-based training

Our shore-based training sessions are suited to larger organisations where we can deliver:

  • General safety requirement presentations
  • Detailed group SMS inductions
  • Other training as may be required

Managed Service Options

Our managed services are designed to allow you to develop a plan that suits your specific needs and budget. Contact us today to find out how we can save you time and money.


Shorlink’s Recommendation

Our recommendation is to take your stress, worry and time involvement away from areas that you don’t specialise in and hand them over to Shorlink which will allow you to get down to business.


Tip

Contact us to see just how easy and cost affordable our managed services are in comparison to having to deal with keeping things up to date yourself!

Anxiety is more than just feeling stressed or worried.

While stress and anxious feelings can be a common response, they usually pass once the stressful situation has passed or the ‘stressor’ is removed.

Everyone feels anxious from time to time.

When anxious feelings don’t go away, happen without reason or make it hard to cope with daily life, it may be the sign of an anxiety condition.

Anxiety is the most common mental health condition in Australia. On average, one in four people will experience anxiety at some stage in their life. There are many ways to help manage anxiety and the sooner people with anxiety get support, the more likely they are to recover.

People in maritime, especially the commercial fishing sector are at high risk of anxiety due to the uncertainty of the industry.  Causes include government regulations, catch rates, weather and of course, the current pandemic adding increased financial pressure.

This can, and often does lead to anxiety for not only the operators but their families as well!

Signs and symptoms

The symptoms of an anxiety condition are often not obvious as they develop slowly and given we all experience some anxiety in our lives, it can be hard to know how much is ‘too’ much.

Normal anxiety tends to be limited in time and connected with some stressful situation or event, such as a job interview.

The type of anxiety associated with a condition is more frequent or persistent, not always connected to an obvious challenge, and impacts on their quality of life and day-to-day functioning.

While each anxiety condition has its own unique features, there are some common symptoms including:

  • Physical: panic attacks, hot and cold flushes, racing heart, tightening of the chest, quick breathing, restlessness, or feeling tense, wound up and edgy
  • Psychological: excessive fear, worry, catastrophizing, or obsessive thinking
  • Behavioural: avoidance of situations that make you feel anxious which can impact on study, work or social life

These are just some of a number of symptoms that you might experience and are a guide only.  They are not designed to provide a diagnosis, for that, you must see your Doctor.

Types of anxiety

Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) Is where a person feels anxious on most days, worrying about lots of different things for a period of 6 months or more.

Social anxiety is where a person has an intense fear of being criticised, embarrassed or humiliated, even in everyday situations, such as speaking publicly, eating in public, being assertive at work or making small talk.

Specific phobias is where a person feels very fearful about a particular object or situation and may go to great lengths to avoid it, for example, having an injection or travelling on a plane. There are many different types of phobias.

Panic disorder is where a person has panic attacks, which are intense, overwhelming and often uncontrollable feelings of anxiety combined with a range of physical symptoms. Someone having a panic attack may experience shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness and excessive perspiration. Sometimes, people experiencing a panic attack think they are having a heart attack or are about to die. If a person has recurrent panic attacks or persistently fears having one for more than a month, they’re said to have panic disorder.

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) This is where a person has ongoing unwanted/intrusive thoughts and fears that cause anxiety. Although the person may acknowledge these thoughts as silly, they often try to relieve their anxiety by carrying out certain behaviours or rituals. For example, a fear of germs and contamination can lead to constant washing of hands and clothes.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) This can happen after a person experiences a traumatic event (e.g.  assault, accident, disaster). Symptoms can include difficulty relaxing, upsetting dreams or flashbacks of the event, and avoidance of anything related to the event. PTSD is diagnosed when a person has symptoms for at least a month.

If you are experiencing any of the above, please seek help immediately. Not seeking help can lead to life threatening situations which may be prevented.

 


Shorlink’s Recommendation

Help is there for anyone suffering anxiety.  Although it can be hard to reach out and ask for help, I strongly recommend taking that step because in most cases early intervention can prevent more longer-term effects.

You can always contact Beyond Blue for mental wellbeing support on 1300 224 636 or call me on 0423 313 790 for assistance.

 


Tip

Please note that support from family and friends can make all the difference for someone with anxiety, depression or suicidal feelings. There are lots of things you can do from noticing changes in their behaviour through to practical support to help them recover and manage their condition.