Keeping shipping services running during the current COVID-19 outbreak will be vital to the fight against and recovery from the outbreak and seafarers have been identified as key workers.
UK MCA notes that
It is therefore crucial that robust protective measures are in place to minimize the risk to seafarers who are working to maintain essential supply chains and supporting services.
According to the International Safety Management Code section 1.2.2. Safety management objectives of the Company should, inter alia:
- provide for safe practices in ship operation and a safe working environment;
- assess all identified risks to its ships, personnel and the environment and establish appropriate safeguards.
While social distancing is fundamentally a public health measure introduced to reduce the spread of infection, it is also relevant to controlling risks within the workplace.
Moreover, they highlight that shipowners and employers should ensure that seafarers are able, where possible, to follow the current Public Health England guidelines on social distancing (including, where possible, maintaining a 2 metre distance from others or, where that is not possible, 1 meter with a face covering or other precautions) and hygiene (washing their hands with soap and water often for at least 20 seconds).
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