Forgotten at sea: occupational health challenges for seafarers during the COVID‑19 pandemic

Shan, Desai | $142,867

Newfoundland and Labrador Memorial University of Newfoundland 2021 CIHR Operating Grant

The COVID‑19 outbreak has resulted in unprecedented challenges to occupational health and safety for essential workers. Essential workers need legal protection, accurate information, and supportive working environments. Drawing upon a group of essential, as well as marginalized workers at sea, seafarers, this research will examine the health challenges they are facing during the pandemic, and explore solutions to address the inequalities faced by them. This research aims to explore the occupational health and safety challenges faced by Canadian and international seafarers during the COVID -19 outbreak, to understand the impact of public health measures on their health and well-being. It also attempts to identify the regulatory barriers and conflicts negatively affecting seafarers’ health and safety that existed in international maritime, health, and labour regulations, and to explore possible policy and management interventions to improve seafarers’ mental and physical well-being in the new normal of the pandemic. The specific research questions are as follows: (1)What are the impacts of COVID‑19 on the health and well-being of maritime workers (Research Area#2)? (2)Are there any regulatory gaps/systematic discrimination that exists in public health law and policies, which make seafarers face structural inequalities during the pandemic (Research Area #1)? (3)What solutions can be developed at the regulatory level, management level, and community level to empower seafarers? This research will adopt a mixed-method approach, including legal doctrinal analysis, quantitative survey, and qualitative interviews to answer the above research questions. We hope to identify (1) the prevalence of psychosocial distress among seafarers during the pandemic, (2) the limitations of the current legal framework in protecting seafarers’ occupational health, and (3) the gaps that existed in the maritime and public health governance system.

With funding from the Government of Canada

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