The human element is still decisive in shipping

Between 70 and 80 per cent of all shipping accidents are estimated to be caused by human error. This figure alone highlights the fact that the human element is still decisive. Despite of all technical installations on board a crew of adequate number and qualification remains to be the key to efficient ship operation. 

Crewing is one of the greatest challenges for every shipowner. On the one hand he must continuously ensure safe ship operation by providing the appropriate number of crew. Especially due to short calls at port and permanent time pressure, working conditions have become increasingly demanding for the individual member of a downsized crew. On the other hand a shipowner, as any entrepreneur, is forced to keep costs under control.

The international Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) ensures a fair balance of interests of seafarers and shipowners. Seafarers benefit from global minimum standards for working and living conditions on board. At the same time the MLC prevents social dumping and fosters fair competition.

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As an example the MLC entitles seafarers to a contract of hire in writing, which must address all relevant working conditions. Furthermore, the comprehensive right to complain of seafarers and the liability of shipowners to pay wages in case of injury or sickness for 16 weeks are significant steps forward.

In Germany the MLC has been implemented by means of the Maritime Labour Act, which for the first time introduced comprehensive periodical inspections of working conditions in an entire sector of the German economy. By this the German administration ensures compliance with legal requirements also on board of German-flagged ships which never call at German ports.