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Human factor Loss Prevention - Monthly themes

Antonovsky’s SOC onboard

Sense of coherence

Who is Antonovsky?

Aaron Antonovsky was a sociologist who was very interested in why certain people can handle huge stress in life and some cannot. For example, Antonovsky studied the health of women that survived the holocaust, which resulted in a model to describe how your view of life actually can change your health. He established a model for a wider health perspective in 1979 that he named Sense of Coherence (SOC). Since then the model has developed and investigated different life situations and in working environments, for example; factories, aviation and hospitals.

Antonovsky’s SOC can be divided in three parts:

COMPREHENSIBILITY – the given information to the crew and the events that happens onboard are clear and understandable.

  • Maintain the closed loop communication.
  • Make sure you are using the same terminology.
  • Briefing and debriefing.
  • Promote a just culture where every crew member dares to speak up.

MANAGEABILITY – the crew member has the possibility to meet up the requirements and can handle the workload.

  • Debriefing – having a constant discussion with the crew is necessary to know how they experience the work situation.
  • Take into consideration how well-rested the crew member is before increasing the workload.

MEANINGFULNESS – A crew member can see the challenge not the burden. A given example is that many perceive the administrative work as a burden, but if it can be put in the big picture and the person know why it has to be done, it can be transformed in to a task that is a challenge instead of a burden.

  • The information distribution should function in a way that the whole crew has access to relevant information.
  • To increase the sense of meaningfulness it can be beneficial to have regular discussions between the shore and shipboard organisations. This, for example, can be done with seminars onboard.

This aspect of health can be integrated into a sustainable shipping where humans are managed as resources. Marine Resource Management (MRM) is an interdisciplinary concept which includes how the management can contribute to the crew’s well-being in order to provide a sustainable and safer crew and vessel operations. The fact is, the healthier, more physically and mentally active, focused and confident the crew is, the less risks there are for accidents.

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