‘Ban fat seamen’ says shipping line

Overweight sailors should be banned from Swedish ships, as they pose a safety risk, a top Swedish shipping line has said.

Denmark and Norway have already banned seamen over a certain body mass index (BMI), and Swedish shipping companies may now follow their lead.

Saliors over a certain weight can hamper proceedings during emergencies, when they are required to act quickly, and run or crawl across the floor.

“If you are very overweight there’s a risk that you can’t do your job. Being overweight is not compatible with safety,” said Yvonne Ericson at Gothenburg-based Stena Line, one of Europe’s biggest shipping lines, to health and safety magazine

Stena Line developed a fitness test several years ago to identify workers who were not fit enough. The project started after ships’ captains raised concerns that their crews would not perform as they should in an emergency.

A person’s BMI is calculated by dividing their weight in kilos with the square of their height in metres. In Norway, crews must not have a BMI over 35. For a person who is 1.8 metres tall this means a maximum weight of 112 kilos. In Denmark the maximum BMI is 40, meaning a maximum weight of 129 kilos for somebody 1.8 metres tall.

Doctors were cautiously positive about the idea.

“I think that this could fulfill a function,” said Stena’s staff doctor Monica Widell.

Union Sjöfolksförbundet, which represents those working in shipping, was sceptical to the idea of a BMI limit.

“Seamen in Swedish aren’t that fat,” the union’s Karl-Arne Johansson said.