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As loading masters, one of the many tasks that they are often required to oversee include the pre-berthing exchange of information. However, considering the recent pandemic, COVID-19, many operational tasks that follow the loading master job has been tweaked to ensure safety. Therefore, we’ll cover the few precautions to note when loading masters are tasked to complete the ship-shore safety checklist during this pandemic.
Effective completion of ship-shore safety checklist by tanker and terminal operators is an important step towards achieving safe and efficient cargo transfer operations during a ship’s port call. At a time when the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the global population, it is important that tanker and terminal personnel protect each other from being exposed to the virus. While it is important to ensure the ship-shore safety checklist is completed, both tanker and terminal personnel should implement a range of precautions to safeguard against COVID-19 infections, during these stages:
- Access Control
- Pre-cargo transfer safety checks and pre-transfer conference
- Repetitive checks during cargo transfer
- Post-cargo transfer
During the pre-arrival stage, the precautionary measures to take would be to conduct the exchange of information related to health advice and any requirements from local Port Authorities and the ship’s Flag State administration. Additionally, documentation that can be completed digitally, including pre-arrival forms, ship-shore safety checklists, MSDS and cargo transfer agreement information, should be exchanged over email. Communication protocols such as VHF channel frequencies should be discussed and agreed upon, prior to the port call. Any equipment that needs to be exchanged by tanker or terminal should be sealed in a bag before exchange. Loading masters should also restrict any shore personnel boarding the ship or ship’s crew visiting the terminal to an absolute minimum. These numbers should be agreed in advance of the ship’s arrival.
In terms of precaution for access control, loading masters should restrict access to pre-agreed essential personnel only. For example, the ship / shore personnel and those required to deal with an emergency. Loading masters should also enforce the maintenance of a minimum distance of two metres between all personnel and agree on a PPE policy before any personnel go on the ship or the terminal. On the other hand, the loading masters should place sanitising stations at the ship’s gangway, the terminal and at entry points to accommodation, control rooms and other appropriate locations.
Pre-cargo transfer safety checks and pre-transfer conference
During the pre-cargo transfer safety checks and pre-transfer conference, loading masters should ensure that the ship-shore safety checklist, including agreement items is digitally completed. Mutually agree and record outstanding checks and agreement items over the VHF or Portable radios using positive confirmation from both parties before starting cargo transfer.
The loading master can achieve necessary tanker or terminal representative face-to-face meetings, by having the meeting in a sanitised location on the dock with one representative from the ship and shore present. Another possibility would be on board the ship’s deck in a temporary office outside of the accommodation, or with the ship representative at the top of the gangway and the dock representative on the dock. All of these meetings must be carried out with the with the representatives always maintaining a minimum distance of two metres.
Repetitive checks during cargo transfer
During the repetitive check phase, as a form of precaution, loading masters should agree on the duration of repetitive checks during pre-transfer agreement. If the shore representative wants to check the ship, they should limit the check to the deck area only and use their VHF or portable radios to confirm repetitive checks on board and at the terminal at pre-agreed intervals. All communication made over VHF or portable radios should be recorded in the relevant section of the ship-shore safety checklist and / or in the port log.
During the final stage of post cargo transfer, loading masters should ensure that the digital exchange of completed sections of the checklist, happens after completion of cargo transfer. Another precaution to take would be the sharing of cargo figures over the radio and authorising the ship’s agent to sign the bill of lading on behalf of the Master, to minimise contact. The last precaution would be to provide feedback digitally to the ship’s Master and terminal representative.
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