Specifically, the goal of this notice is to provide details concerning the regulations 2010 as amended, also highlighting that shipowners and employers must be aware and assess the risks of those working onboard from exposure to biological agents.
It is highlighted that after 31 January 2020 there will be a transition period until the end of 2020, while the UK and EU negotiate additional arrangements. Yet, the existent rules on trade, travel, and business for the UK and EU will continue to apply during the transition period.
Biological agents are a definition referring to micro-organisms, including those which have been genetically modified, cell cultures and human endoparasites, which may be able to provoke any infection, allergy or toxicity.
The exposure to biological agents consists of three main groupings, such as:
- exposure resulting from a deliberate intention to work with a biological agent, i.e work with biological agents that involves research, development, teaching or diagnosis. This is unlikely to occur on most ships, yachts, fishing vessels etc but may occur on specialised research ships;
- exposure which arises out of the work activity but is incidental to it. Examples of activities in which there may be exposure of this kind and which could be relevant to workers on ships, yachts, fishing vessels etc include giving of first aid or other medical care, work on sewage treatment plant, work on the ship’s air conditioning and water systems, swimming pools and spas, waste disposal and food processing or carriage of animals as cargo;
- exposure which does not arise out of the work activity itself, for example where a worker catches an infection from someone who he/she happens to come into contact with through work.
Under the possibility that crew is exposed to biological agents, employers should implement hygiene and individual protection.
The measures employers could implement are include ensuring:
- eating, drinking or smoking in areas where there is a risk of contamination by biological agents is prohibited;
- workers are provided with protective or special clothing appropriate to the biological agent(s) which the risk assessment has identified as potentially putting them at risk;
- appropriate and adequate washing and toilet facilities, including eye washes and skin antiseptics, is provided for workers at risk;
- protective equipment is properly stored in a well defined place and is checked and whenever possible cleaned before, and in any case after, each use;
- defective equipment is properly repaired or replaced before further use;
- procedures are in place covering the taking, handling and processing of samples of human or animal origin.
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