Guidelines for maritime employers and manning agencies
The UK Maritime Coastguard Agency (UK MCA) issued a Maritime Guidance Notice regarding the arrangements for provision of seafarer medical examinations, following the introduction of the Merchant Shipping (Medical Examination) Regulations 2002 on 30 June 2002.
Summary of Changes
A UK seafarer medical certificate (or one from any other country which is recognised as equivalent) will be required for all seafarers (ie anyone employed or engaged in any capacity on board a seagoing ship). This is taken to mean anyone employed either directly by a shipping company or through a manning agency, whose usual place of work is on board a seagoing ship and includes any crew member, resident entertainer and franchise employee on passenger ships. Boatmasters licence holders operating on seagoing passenger ships are also covered. MSN 1765 gives further details.
Under the new Regulations, seagoing ships are defined as those certified for navigation at sea.
The list of those countries whose medical certificates were accepted under the previous Regulations has been replaced by a list of countries whose medical certification system and standards have been assessed (as part of the ongoing STCW 95 recognitionprocess) as being equivalent to those of the UK. (Listed as Annex C to MSN 1766(M) and Annex A to MSN 1765(M). Employers are therefore advised to check this list.
The maximum validity for a UK medical fitness certificate for all seafarers aged 18 or over, will be 2 years, to bring the UK into line with the international standard required by ILO (the International Labour Organisation) Convention 73. Seafarers under 18 will still require annual examinations.
Medical examination for those over 18 employed on chemical carriers will no longer be required annually.
Transitional arrangements will allow those holding certificates issued under the previous Regulations for 5 years to run for their full validity, except when medical conditions indicate otherwise.
Revised medical standards have been drawn up which will introduce greater flexibility, reflecting relative risk.
Supplementary testing which does not form part of the normal medical examination, eg audiometry, physical fitness, TB screening, immunisation advice and investigation of health problems which arise between medicals, may also be carried out at an Approved Doctors discretion if it would assist the doctor in making a judgement on a seafarers fitness for specific work the seafarer may undertake. A separate fee may be charged for these tests.
New entrant seafarers, as well as serving seafarers, will have the right of appeal in the event of failing or being issued with a restricted medical certificate.
For more information please read the Marine Guidance Notice.
Source: UK MCA