COVID-19 and Marine Freight Transportation: Keeping Workers and the Public Safe
Health and safety is the first priority, as the marine sector continues the critical mission of delivering the goods and products people need for their daily lives. Marine shipping is an essential service and is vital to keeping supply chains operating in Canada and the United States.
With that in mind, the Chamber of Marine Commerce is in regular communication with federal government transport and health officials to ensure a coordinated approach that helps to protect employees and stakeholders who interact with the marine sector.
We are also providing our shipowner, port and other members information on the latest measures and best practices coming from federal and provincial government departments here in North America and through the International Chamber of Shipping.
Such measures include screening and reporting requirements for ship crews, extra cleaning procedures, hand washing, sanitizing frequently touched surfaces, limiting shore side interactions, keeping physical distancing in the workplace and using protective gear.
The entire marine supply chain has worked together on this task and we are proud of our ship crews and port-side stakeholders who have quickly mobilized to adapt their operations and go the extra mile to support the economy and ensure essential products continue to be delivered in this time of crisis.
This is an evolving situation and the Chamber is also monitoring business developments very closely to assess how COVID-19 will impact Great Lakes-St. Lawrence and coastal shipping from an economic perspective.
— Bruce Burrows, President and CEO of the Chamber of Marine Commerce
Keeping Workers and the Public Safe
While marine trade is exempt from current border closures in Canada and the U.S., the industry is following measures and protocols to keep workers and the public safe.
Before even arriving at their destination, cargo shipping lines are taking precautions to keep crews and port workers safe. For example, crews are being screened prior to boarding and extra onboard cleaning is being done according to health guidelines from the International Maritime Organization and the World Health Organization.
Ports and other marine-related employees like pilots are also following health and safety procedures from Public Health agencies including extra cleaning, social distancing, hand washing, limiting work travel. Ports are closing public spaces where applicable. Marine workers are expected to only board vessels for necessary operations and stay further away from crew.
Transport Canada has provided two infographics explaining marine sector health and safety.
International ships calling on Canadian ports must report people who are symptomatic or suspected of having COVID-19 to Transport Canada 96-hours before arriving in Canadian waters; as well as any time after this initial report. Once Transport Canada receives the report, they confirm the health status of the crew with the master. Reports are shared with the Public Health Agency of Canada for immediate action. If needed, directions are given to the ship and to stakeholders like port operators and pilots.
Canadian ships follow similar protocols, with Masters reporting any person symptomatic or suspected of COVID-19 immediately to Transport Canada and the nearest provincial and local health authorities.
All vessels entering U.S. Ports:
- Illness of a person onboard any vessel that may adversely affect the safety of a vessel or port facility must be reported immediately to the U.S. Coast Guard Captain of the Port. Cases of persons who exhibit symptoms consistent with COVID-19 must be reported to the U.S. Coast Guard Captain of the Port.
- Vessels destined for a U.S. port are required to report to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) any sick or deceased crew/passengers during 15 days prior to arrival at the U.S. port.