Coronavirus Battling On Ships–Measures Seafarers Should take
The outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) has placed the shipping industry in the grip of uncertainty and stagnation.
Many maritime industry stakeholders are feeling the heat in terms of company cutbacks and losses.
China, the largest player in the global shipping market for containers, has been hit hardest and has impacted the entire maritime industry.
Other major shipping hubs such as Hong Kong, Singapore, Hamburg etc. have also been deeply affected by the coronavirus.
The ship’s crew being in the centre of all of these is a vital element in keeping the transportation running to avoid the further downfall of the global economy.
Recently, several crew members of cruise and cargo ships have been tested positive for COVID 19, further making the shipping operations extremely difficult.
To effectively tackle this situation, all major ship operators and regulatory authorities have issued important guidelines for the ship’s crew.
While there is already a lot of standardised information out there, at INTLREG we feel it is important to provide more detailed information and procedures to eliminate ambiguity, and to set guidelines for the ship’s staff to combat COVID 19.
Apart from all the directives provided in the Guidance for ship operators, the following additional steps can be taken by the ship’s crew to stay safe from getting infected by the coronavirus:
- Keep a check on the health of all ship staff i.e. body temperature etc. on a daily basis.
- Before reaching the port, the assigned gangway watch-keeper should be provided with essential protective clothing, including mask eyeglass, and disposable apron etc.
- The management on the ship should ensure enough hand sanitiser, disinfectant, gloves, mask, disposable apron/ boiler suits are available onboard or requisition has been raised under urgent remark
- The ship office to attend shore personnel is usually located inside the accommodation area, near the entry door. If possible, an area on the open deck (by making a makeshift office) or bosun cabin or any storeroom which is separated from the crew accommodation can be assigned as ship office
- Do not allow anyone to enter the accommodation area except those who are authorised or representing customs or medical/ quarantine port staff
- At the gangway entry, keep a hand sanitiser and ensure the person entering uses the same. Any person entering the ship should wear a mask. The gangway watch-keeper can monitor the temperature of all people entering the ship and raise an objection if anyone has body temperature or cough/cold
- When performing cargo watch in the affected port, keep a distance from the port personal
- When going down in the jetty for checking draft etc., wear all protective equipment such as masks, goggles, disposable aprons, disposable gloves etc.
- The crew should avoid going into each other cabins
- The department in charge should provide adequate rest hours and avoid giving additional work when the ship is in affected port
- Lock the common toilet and keep it closed in port
- The crew lunch or dinner can be divided in different timings so that there is no overcrowding in the mess room and people have enough space to sit in distance from each other
- All the hand railing inside the accommodation, staircase support railing, elevator buttons etc. should be regularly cleaned with disinfectants
- All the mess room cutleries to be properly washed before and after usage
- Have a concrete disposable plan and separate bins to dispose of face mask, apron etc, used in COVID 19 affected ports
- Avoid touching ship railings, equipment, instruments unnecessarily
- When working on a common ship computer, clean the keyboards with disinfectant after use and dispose of the cleaning cloth or tissue paper etc.
- Walkie talkies are shared among the crew, hence, they can be put inside a disposable plastic cover and before handing it to another watch-keeper or putting it in the charging dock, remove and dispose the plastic sheet cover and clean it with disinfectant
- Accommodation air condition system can be changed from recirculation to fresh air intake
- All the portable air conditioning system (in ECR, bridge etc.) have their own filters which need to be cleaned regularly
- Fresh stationery to be issued to each crew member. They should not be interchanged or crew should not use other’s stationery if possible
- If the provisions or spares are received in port, they should be received in a separate area without allowing outside people entering the accommodation. If the provision is received in the affected port, the boxes received can either be given back to the supplier or each box should be wiped with a cloth dipped in disinfectant.
- Avoid immediate use of the provision received in affected port and keep it separate from the current store being consumed
- When there is sign-in of the crew in the affected port or country, avoid any physical interaction i.e. handshake etc. and clean their luggage with cloth dipped in disinfectant
- The sign-in crew should first take shower and change in ship work clothing before reporting to the Master
- Avoid handling of luggage/bag of port representative, pilot, surveyor etc. and advise them to clean it with cloth dipped in disinfectant
- Washing of clothes and boiler suit should be done separately by each individual
- When steward washes the linen of the officers, ensure to use disinfectant liquid approved for washing clothes
- Prepare a separate isolation cabin in advance, which should be at the corner of the accommodation
- The crew should be trained for responsible behaviour and self-reporting if feeling feverish or having cough/ cold symptoms
- Avoid ship parties and get together
- Avoid team meetings or carry out the meeting if necessary in bigger rooms or in the open area so that crew can be at a distance from each other
- Avoid any drills in the affected port
- Though there are still a lot of unanswered questions regarding COVID 19, panic is something we should ignore at any cost. A sensible, consistent, and collective effort will help us fight this disease and prevent it from further spreading.
Over to our fellow followers…
What further precautions should we take to tackle this problem?
Let’s hear it in the comments below.