COVID-19 Safety Working Guide – latest IIMS update

The points made in this updated COVID-19 Safety Working Guide produced by IIMS are essentially common sense suggestions and do not carry any official or authorised backing. Also, remember that advice will change periodically around the world in what is a fast moving situation. Thanks are due to Maurice Pickles, Capt Chris Kelly and the Workboat Association as additional reference sources.

The health and safety of marine surveyors, not just IIMS members, and other related personnel at this time is of primary importance and must not be compromised, especially when coming into contact with others during the course of their work. Whilst many marine surveyors are idle at this time, some have still been working in various parts of the world. But as Governments start to look at progressively loosening lockdown procedures, now is not a time to become complacent. COVID-19 remains active in our communities and is likely to remain a challenge for many months until a reliable vaccine is found; so great care should be taken for the foreseeable future to avoid contracting or spreading the disease. No matter if you are currently working, or plan to resume surveying and inspecting soon, here is some practical, common sense advice to help you keep safe.

Advice for commercial ship surveyors
– Check with the terminal operator to understand what COVID-19 precautions are in place as the attending surveyor may be denied access.
– Before a surveyor will attend the vessel the vessel operator, he/she should contact the vessel’s Captain/Master by email or telephone prior to arrival.
– In that communication, he/she should discuss the electronic exchange of documentation, the scanning of documentation requiring a signature, social distancing requirements while on board and how to conduct the survey with minimum interaction with the vessel’s crew.
– Travel Letters should be issued to attending surveyors in the event of them being stopped by government officials and other authorities and questioned.

The role of the Captain and/or Master
The Captain and/or Master must satisfy themselves of the following and report to the attending surveyor:
– That safe access will be provided to the vessel in accordance with local government, port and terminal regulations in force.
– That a COVID-19 risk assessment will be conducted in advance and a copy made available to the attending surveyor.
– That following preparation of the risk assessment, onboard procedures are in place for the implementation of social distancing, as far as is practicable.
– That the specified PPE equipment, in accordance with guidelines published by the IMO, is available to protect the crew and the surveyor from the transmission of COVID-19.
– That onboard facilities will be provided for the surveyor to wash their hands and dry them with disposable towels.
– That wherever possible preparations have been made by the vessel’s crew to expedite the survey process.
– That in the event of either the health and safety of the surveyor or vessel’s crew being compromised, the survey will be terminated immediately.

The role of the surveyor
The surveyor has a responsibility to:
– Decline or cancel a survey appointment if they have been in contact with someone else who has suffered COVID-19 symptoms in the 14 days before a survey.
– Decline or cancel a survey appointment if they themselves are showing symptoms of COVID-19.
– Decline or cancel a survey appointment if they are aware that the vessel to be inspected has been subject to health restrictions imposed by a government body in the 14 day period before survey.
– Decline or cancel a survey appointment where travel to the vessel would breach specific travel restrictions imposed by National, Regional or Local Governments, or require them to self-isolate upon returning home.
– Verify that travel to and from the port of survey can be completed in compliance with National, Regional and Local Government regulations in force at the time of travel.
– Comply with any additional safety precautions or PPE requirements deemed necessary by a port, terminal or vessel due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a minimum requirement, a surveyor should:
• Upon boarding the vessel immediately wash their hands using warm water and soap, or use hand sanitizer but only as a second measure.
• Wear suitable gloves that permit the surveyor to write and use a camera.
• Consider using a digital voice recorder.
• Use a face mask if considered appropriate.
• Avoid close personal contact when clearing terminal security (minimum 2 metres).
• Avoid close personal contact when clearing vessel security (minimum 2 metres).
• Stay outside the vessel’s accommodation if possible and decline the offer of meals and refreshments, taking your own water onboard instead.
• Comply with social distancing requirements put in place by the vessel, terminal and, where applicable, the local government as far as is possible while onboard a vessel.
• Maintain a minimum 2 metre distance from all personnel during the survey where possible.
• Avoid the sharing of tools, electronic gadgets or stationary.
• After leaving the vessel, remove gloves, overalls and boots prior to getting into your vehicle and place in bin bags in the boot.
• Shower and change clothes prior to social contact after leaving the terminal.
• Wash working clothes at the end of the end of the working day to prevent contamination of your office and home at 56°C or hotter and tumble drying clothes to kill the virus.

It is a requirement to report any potentially COVID-19 affected person(s) transported by sea to the respective port health office. Click here.

Some of the above advice also applies to yacht and small craft surveyors, but additionally:
– Be aware that hand and guard rails could be a potential source of infection.
– Encourage owners, brokers and others to stay away so you can do the survey in isolation. If others must be present then use the social distancing requirements of a minimum of 2 metres.
– Use your own surveying tools and equipment only.

And finally a few other aspects of daily life for all to think about:
– If you are refulleing your vehicle en-route to survey be aware that fuel pumps are a potential source of infection, so use gloves and hand sanitizer once back in your vehicle.
– Bank ATMs are also said to present a serious risk of infection.
– Use contactless cards to pay for small sums rather than using key pads where possible.
– Avoid handling cash – bank notes and coins.
– Wear gloves if you need to use elevator buttons or activate the buttons with a pen.
– Avoid telephones and mobiles other than your own – they harbour millions of germs!
– Minimum contact with door handles is important.
– Contact with keys other than your own should be avoided.
– Science suggests COVID-19 can survive on glass, stainless steel and plastic for up to three days, so be mindful.
– Above all wear gloves and wash your hands regularly.

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