[FAQ] COVID19 Basic Protective Measures Guide for Shippers


As the coronavirus pandemic threatens life all over the globe, INTERTANKO has released a new set of guidelines for shippers to control the outbreak onboard ships.

Here we are presenting some of the basic protective measures that seafarers and ship operators as instructed by the Intertanko COVID19 Outbreak Management Plan. Let’s take a look.

Identify the Symptoms

Before we start let us take a look at the symptoms of COVID19

The World Health Organisation (WHO) states that the Covid-19 virus affects different people in different ways.

The WHO states that the common symptoms include:
• fever
• tiredness
• dry cough.
Other symptoms can include:
• shortness of breath
• aches and pains
• sore throat
• and, in a few cases, people may report diarrhoea, nausea or a runny nose.
It is believed that up to 30% of those infected do not show any symptoms and so cleanliness and social distancing must be maintained.

Basic protective measures against Covid-19

The following advice is derived from general advice provided by the WHO and based upon the ICS guidance:

• Frequent hand washing by crew using soap and hot water or alcohol-based (at least 65-70%) hand rub for 20 seconds;
• Avoidance of touching the face including mouth, nose and eyes with unwashed hands (in case hands have touched surfaces contaminated with the virus);
• Seafarers should be encouraged to cover their nose and mouth with a disposable tissue when sneezing, coughing, wiping and blowing the nose, then dispose of the used tissue immediately;
• If a tissue is not available, crew should cover their nose and mouth and cough or sneeze into a bent elbow;
• All used tissues should be disposed of promptly into a waste bin;
Seafarers should aim to maintain social distancing and keep at least one metre (3 feet) distance from other people, particularly those that cough or sneeze or may have a fever. If they are too close, other crew members can potentially breathe in the virus; and
Meat, milk or animal products should always be handled with care, to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods, consistent with good food safety practices.
The consumption of raw or undercooked animal products should be avoided.
• A medical log should be maintained.

Personal Protective Equipment

Some ports will require all personnel who come into contact with shore workers to wear extensive amounts of PPE.

However, the routine use of PPE including surgical masks, gloves and face shields is only recommended for those in close proximity to infected persons.

Social distancing measures should prevent the need to wear PPE during routine activities. For the gangway watch, the use of a N95 respirator mask, or surgical mask and
gloves is recommended as the watch may come into contact with infected persons.

The WHO advises the following on the use of face masks:

• If you are healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with suspected Covid-19 infection.
• Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
• Masks are effective only when used in combination with frequent hand-cleaning with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
• If you wear a mask, then you must know how to use it and dispose of it properly.
• Make sure there are no gaps between face and the mask.
Avoid touching the mask while using it; if you do, clean your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
Replace the mask with a new one as soon as it is damp and do not re-use single-use masks.
To remove the mask: remove it from behind (do not touch the front of mask); discard immediately in a closed bin; clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water

Prior to calling at a port

Prior to calling any port of an affected country, the Master should ensure accurate port info and vessel ETA is sent to the office.

  • To gather adequate information and update on the Covid-19 from all concerned parties to mitigate the risk, take appropriate precautions and comply with local requirements, which may include the use of additional PPE.
  • Ships’ crews must alert the authorities in the event Covid-19 is suspected on board. In assessing whether a crew member has been exposed to Covid-19, the exposure history should be looked at, in particular whether anyone has joined the vessel in the previous 14 days and what port calls have been undertaken.
  • In many countries, local authorities are requiring all vessels to report the temperature and condition of a vessel’s crew before entry into the port.
  • The provisions contained in the Ship Security Plan, which provide a framework for establishing preventive measures related to limited and unauthorised access, may also be effective in preventing the spread of the virus to ships and seafarers.
  • These include conducting a risk assessment prior to entry into an affected port, assessing the preventive measures taken by those ports, and diligent application of access controls.
  • Such measures may serve to support other actions aimed at preventing the spread of Covid-19 and thus enhance the safety of seafarers and persons with whom they may come into contact.

Precautions with Pilot on board

In the hour prior to Pilot boarding, wipe down the entire bridge with a 5% solution of bleach in water (Chart table, instruments, chairs, helm, entire console, windows, etc). The cleaning should be repeated after the departure of the Pilot.

  • Have disposable gloves readily available in order to supply the Pilot (if required) after his embarkation, which he should wear until his disembarkation.
  • Remote temperature gauging of the Pilot (using a non-contact thermometer) should be undertaken and boarding should not be allowed if the readings are above 37.3
    degrees Celsius.
  • Handshakes and other physical contact must be avoided. Social distancing between Pilot and bridge personnel should be in place at all times.
  • Any crew member entering the bridge including the pilot should thoroughly wash their hands prior to entering the bridge.
  • To facilitate this the toilet located next to the bridge should have all necessary sanitizing materials.
  • Pilots may bring their own sanitizing materials, but these should also be provided by the ship and made available for all bridge team members to use frequently.
  • Throughout the transit, all personnel on the bridge including the Pilots are encouraged to regularly wipe down any surface and equipment they come into contact with, such as pens/pencils, binoculars, radar control panels, ECDIS control panels, PPUs, VHF radios, chairs, handrails, etc.
  • If the Pilot is in a non-critical area of navigation and feels that they may need to cough or sneeze then they are encouraged to step to the bridge wing or exterior of the wheelhouse and do so in an open environment away from other individuals.
  • If the area of navigation or layout of wheelhouse does not permit this action, then the
    individual shall cover their mouth/nose and orient themselves in a direction away from other individuals.
  • When safe to do so, they shall proceed with wiping down of the surfaces in their immediate vicinity.
  • Same applies to all ship’s personnel attending the bridge.
  • Only essential personnel should be allowed in the wheelhouse.
  • Eating while on the bridge should be prohibited and the Pilot service informed of this prior to their boarding

Precautions with Private Maritime Security Guards onboard

The company, when engaging the services of a Private Maritime Security Company (PMSC), should undertake due diligence and ascertain the steps taken by the PMSC to ensure their guards are free of the virus.

  • The vessel should follow the same precautions as for Pilots boarding the ship. However, as the guards will be sailing with the vessel, social distancing and cleanliness will be key. After the guards have disembarked, their accommodation should be thoroughly cleaned.
  • The company must inform the PMSC if any seafarer falls ill with a fever, flu-like symptoms or tests positive for Covid-19 within two weeks of the guards’ departure. Similarly, the PMSC must inform the company if any of the guards fall ill with a fever, flu-like symptoms or test positive for Covid-19 within two weeks of departing
    the ship

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