Reasons and Symptoms of Physical and Psychological Stress On board Ships


Working on ships is not an easy task. Negligible social life, monotonous routines, and harsh working conditions are some of the many difficulties faced by seafarers on board ships. This leads to both physical and psychological stress.


 Maximum of the shipping companies employ multinational crew, which brings along its own set of problems such as language barrier, group formation etc. All these factors along with the reducing number of crew members on board ships have been one of the main reasons for increase in physical and psychological stress on board ships.

Needless to say, conflicts, politics, ego-clash etc. are bound to exist among crew members. These problems further results into a variety of physical and psychological problems among crew members. Some of the main ones are:

  • Lack of interest in work
  • Lack of motivation
  • Short temper
  • Careless mistakes while doing work
  • Tendency to take short cuts to finish work
  • Frustration
  • Lack of seriousness towards ones duties and on board safety
  • Tendency to blame juniors or colleagues for mistakes
  • Frequent absence from work place
  • Making professional mistakes 
Main reasons that lead to above mentioned problems are:
  • Shortage of man power because of less crew members
  • Frequent calling at port (Duties at port require most physical efforts and long working hours)
  • Personal or family problems
  • Long working hours
  • Homesickness
  • Not being relieved on time by the company
  • Work pressure
  • Unfriendly working environment
  • Differences of opinion/conflicts with colleagues
  • Unavailability of necessary provisions
  • Dissatisfied with company policy
  • Dissatisfied with quality of food
  • Rejected from promotion, salary or leave
  • Dissatisfied with facilities provided on board e.g. entertainment facilities

Long and uncertain working hours have been one of the main reasons of stress onboard ships. This leads to imbalance in human biological clock caused because of lack of proper work and rest hours schedule.

Because of such continuous stress, seafarers are often seen resorting to alcoholism and smoking in spite of company policies prohibiting use of such elements.

Prolonged stage of frustration and stress can be extremely harmful to both physical and mental health of seafarers. Continuous psychological stress can lead to the following effects:

  • Repeating of the same mistakes
  • Reduced work efficiency
  • Reclusive behaviour/ neglecting interaction with crew members/withdrawal symptoms
  • Refusal to follow instructions
  • Negligence towards duties
  • Making serious offences against law 


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