The demographic trend towards ageing implies the necessity of addressing more comprehensively the needs of elderly and disabled people using passenger ships. In addition, disability issues relating to employment of seafarers are currently a widely neglected area, which could affect several thousand employees in Europe.
HANDIAMI aimed to investigate all relevant aspects of disability issues and seek the viewpoints of individuals and organisations with respect to the needs of passengers and employees in the maritime sector.
The main objectives of HANDIAMI were to:
- undertake a detailed comparative analysis of the level of existing provision for disabled passengers in all transport sectors;
- develop introductory training material for managers and staff in the maritime industry;
- promote the employment and retention of disabled maritime workers;
- highlight any safety-specific issues that impact on ship design, operation and training.
HANDIAMI has produced:
- the first scientific overview of special needs of disabled people, with a surprisingly blunt set of pragmatic and cheap-to-implement suggestions for changes in the design and operation of vessels;
- an outline of demographic findings underlining the growing relevance of addressing the needs of disabled passengers as a major target group, e.g. in cruise travel, thereby highlighting the sound economic basis of desired modifications;
- recommendations for improved crew training focused on better awareness of elderly or disabled passengers onboard vessels with reference to existing Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW 95);
- an overview of obstacles preventing quick and efficient evacuation of disabled passengers, recommendations on how to overcome those barriers, and a qualitative appraisal of associated costs if considered from the initial stage in the design process of ships;
- an assessment of re-employment opportunities for disabled seafarers, leading to the conclusion that a switch to shore-based jobs - whether in the maritime or related sectors - is highly likely due to inevitable safety constraints; only a dramatic shortfall in the supply of seafarers might create the possibility of re-employing disabled crew members. A comparison with equal opportunities in employment in land-based jobs showed that this issue is widely neglected in the maritime industry.
Three aspects discussed by HANDIAMI may benefit from actions to be initiated by the EU. The proper exchange of information and experience between, for example, disability organisations and technical experts (ship designers, naval architects, and lawyers) should be facilitated. Secondly, existing and effective IMO recommendations on addressing the needs of elderly and disabled people should be enhanced and promoted. Finally, the anticipated shortfall in the supply of seafarers may offer some opportunities for re-employment of crew members with impaired fitness if safety, operational and organisational regulations are slightly adapted.