[Answer] How To Establish A COVID19 Safety Control Measure Onboard Ships?

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As COVID19 continue effect world trade and how businesses function, ships and crews are in jeopardy on ways to tackle the situation. To help seafarers and shippers the Gard has published a detailed safety control measure plan for shippers.

Let’s take a look at that.

Objective of this Guidance

This guidance aims to address major concerns and expectations of ship’s crews and shorebased personnel through the implementation of practical, risk-based measures to address COVID-19 risks to all personnel involved in the ship/shore interface.

Recommendations

IMO Circular Letter No.4204/Add.6 “Preliminary list of recommendations for
Governments and relevant national authorities on the facilitation of maritime trade during the COVID-19 pandemic” of 27 March 2020 contains, inter alia, the following recommendations to Member States on “Measures to ensure health protection in ports” in which “Governments and relevant national authorities are recommended to:

  • Request ships to report any cases of illness indicative of COVID-19 infection on board
    as early as possible before arrival to the relevant authority in the port.
  • Advise ships to regularly monitor shipboard personnel while in port for the exhibition of
    any symptoms associated with COVID-19 and report any changes in circumstances of
    the health of shipboard personnel to the relevant authority in the port.
  • Consider temporarily restricting shipboard personnel to the ship while in port (except or
    until the situation permits otherwise) unless disembarking as part of a crew change or to
    receive emergency medical attention not available on board the ship.
  •  Limit, as far as possible, the number of interactions with shipboard personnel by entities  in the port to only those critical and essential for the continued operation and supply of the ship.
  • Provide information to port workers on basic protective measures against COVID-19
    based on World Health Organization (WHO) advice.
  •  Ensure those working in ports and having access to ships are provided with appropriate
    personal protection equipment (which could include masks, hand sanitizers and other
    means of preventing the spread of the virus) prior to contact with seafarers.
  • Request port authorities and port workers to comply with any screening or other
    protocols or procedures introduced by visiting ships to address COVID-19.

Risk management

In order to keep all ship and shore-based personnel as safe as possible, consideration
should be given by all parties as to how best to manage risk related to COVID-19.

Appropriate control measures should be established to ensure that risks and impacts
are managed to a tolerable level, and proportionate measures are established to reduce,
control and manage the risks that Covid-19 poses to all persons.

Communication

As part of the risk management and control process it is recommended that prior to
arrival in port the ship communicates its requirements related to COVID-19 risk management to all the anticipated service providers and port officials expected to attend on board during the port call, which may be coordinated through the ship’s port agent if appropriate.

It is further recommended that prior to arrival in port the shore-based service providers
and port officials communicate their requirements related to COVID-19 risk management to
the ship, again this may be coordinated by the ship’s port agent if appropriate.

How To Address COVID19 Risks

Shipping companies: In accordance with the ISM Code shipping companies are
required to assess all identified risks to their ships and personnel and establish appropriate
safeguards normally documented in their Safety Management Systems (SMS). As a result,
shipping companies should have developed for each of their ships detailed plans and
procedures related to different aspects and risks associated with the coronavirus (COVID-19) including the identified risks and associated mitigation from the interface of crews with shorebased personnel as part of the ship’s operations. The risk-based procedures and guidance documented, should be based on the latest guidance related to COVID-19 from WHO, International Maritime Health Association (IMHA) and the ship’s flag State requirements as appropriate and taking into account the “Hierarchy of controls as a guide to establishing effective safety control measures and reducing risk” detailed in Table 1.

Shore-based service providers:  Organisations providing shore-based service
providers to ships, such as agents, chandlers, inspectors, pilots, stevedores, surveyors,
service engineers etc, should implement risk-based procedures and guidance for their
employees related to COVID-19 within their internal procedures, based on the latest guidance from WHO, IMHA and local port and national requirements as appropriate taking into account the “Hierarchy of controls as a guide to establishing effective safety control measures and reducing risk” detailed in Table 1.

Port, immigration and customs authorities: Authorities responsible for Immigration
Officers, Customs Officers, Port State Control Inspectors etc, should implement risk-based
procedures and guidance for their employees related to COVID-19 within their internal
procedures, based on the latest guidance from WHO, IMHA and local port and national
requirements as appropriate taking into account the “Hierarchy of controls as a guide to establishing effective safety control measures and reducing risk” detailed in Table 1.

Managing differences

With differences in strategies and requirements to manage risks to persons from
COVID-19 existing virtually country by country and company to company excellent
communication in a timely manner between the ship, including the shipping company and its agents, with shore-based organisations intending to board the ship is essential and is the only way to effectively identify issues and manage differences in requirements relating to mitigating the risk to all personnel from the COVID-19 virus.

In line with Table 1 “Hierarchy of controls as a guide to establishing effective safety control measures and reducing risk”, where differences exist in expectations between ship and shore requirements, these should be resolved by both parties to their mutual satisfaction prior to the ship arriving in port, thereby addressing the risks effectively, possibly by agreeing and adopting an equivalent measure, as well as ensuring misunderstandings, false expectations and associated frustrations of ship’s crew and shore-based personnel are avoided.

Simple Onboard Safety Steps

If attendance onboard a ship is unavoidable, the following are some simple steps and
precautions that should be taken:

  • Minimise the number of persons attending
  •  Use outer walkways rather than access through the crew accommodation.
  • Limit time inside crew accommodation to the absolute minimum necessary to perform
    duties onboard
  • Maintain social distancing – preferably 2 meters but at least 1 meter apart and limit
    interaction with crew members to those involved in performance of duties onboard
  • Do not shake hands, use a wave, a nod or a bow
  • Frequently clean your hands with soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds or use an
    alcohol-based hand rub
  • Provide sanitising stations at appropriate locations e.g. the ship’s gangway, entry points
    to accommodation, the bridge, control rooms
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth
  • If wearing a face mask, be sure it covers your mouth and nose
  • Do not touch a face mask once it is on
  • Immediately safely discard single-use masks after each use
  • Clean your hands after removing masks

After Visit Disclosures

In the 14 (fourteen) days following a ship visit, if either any shore-based person
attending onboard a ship or any of the ship’s crew develop the COVID-19 symptoms, there is then a moral duty to contact those who may have been infected as a result to disclose this information.

If the industry is to act properly and responsibly in minimising the spread of the
COVID-19 virus, this communication is essential and should form part of the mutually agreed requirements related to risk management and control of COVID-19 prior to boarding any ship.

Conclusion

In order to safely manage a port call with respect to the ship / shore interface, it is
incumbent on all parties to communicate in advance of the port call, to be open regarding each parties requirements to managing risk with respect to the COVID-19 virus and be flexible and pragmatic in resolving any differences in requirements and expectations.

Reference can also be made to “Guidance for ship operators for the protection of the
health of seafarers”, available as free download on the ICS website and as stated in IMO
Circular Letter No.4204/Add.4 dated 5 March 2020.

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Source: The Gard

 

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