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International Chamber of Shipping issues Covid-19 guidance to help protect the health of seafarers and shore-based personnel

International Chamber of Shipping issues Covid-19 guidance to help protect the health of seafarers and shore-based personnel | BDM Blog | BDM Law

Backed by the International Group of P&I Clubs and BIMCO (amongst others), on 11 May 2020 the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) issued Guidance for ensuring a safe shipboard interface between ship and shore-based personnel.

The Covid-19 pandemic has created a number of issues relating to the safety of seafarers and shore-based personnel during port calls. These issues often arise due to ship and shore-based personnel following conflicting procedures and requirements, which differ from port to port. According to the ICS, this Guidance aims to address these concerns by implementing “practical, risk-based measures to address COVID-19 risks to all personnel involved in the ship/shore interface”.

The Guidance reiterates the IMO recommendations contained in its Circular Letter No. 4204/Add.6 dated 27 March 2020 which contains preliminary recommendations in relation to maritime trade during Covid-19 (see here) and sets out further measures to apply to shipping companies, shore-based service providers and port, immigration and customs authorities.

The Guidance outlines a hierarchy of controls as a guide to establishing effective safely control measures and reducing risk as follows:

  1. Eliminate: elimination of the hazard is the most effective measure to reduce risks
  2. Reduce: where it is not possible to eliminate the hazard, the risk can be reduced by minimising attendance on board
  3. Communicate: if onboard attendance cannot be eliminated, communicate and understand the requirements of each party involved
  4. Control: if requirements communicated between each party are not understood, then administrative control measures should be taken to ensure all requirements are understood or to facilitate agreeing alternative measures
  5. Personal Protective Equipment: understand what PPE is required and expected to be used by crew and shore-based personnel during attendance on board

The Guidance also sets out simple steps to take when attendance on board is unavoidable which include:

  • minimising the number of persons attending;
  • using outer walkways rather than access through the crew accommodation; and
  • limiting time inside crew accommodation to the absolute minimum necessary to perform duties on board

In order to safely manage a port call, the Guidance recommends that all parties communicate in advance of the port call, be open to each party’s requirements as to managing risk and be flexible in resolving any differences in requirements and expectations.

The Guidance can be found here: https://www.ics-shipping.org/docs/default-source/Press-Release-downloads/covid-19-guidance-for-ensuring-a-safe-shipboard-interface-between-ship-and-shore-based-personnel.pdf?sfvrsn=2

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