IACS Statement to Industry

IACS Members ensuring safe continuation of survey activity during COVID-19 through pro-active risk assessment and management

As the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has continued to impact the global economy and world trade, IACS has been fully engaged in supporting the IMO’s calls for measures that help ships safely remain in service and in compliance with Class Rules and the requirements of the international Conventions.  This has included temporary changes to IACS Procedural Requirements to enable requests for survey postponements and certificate extensions to be safely and consistently addressed, in conjunction with flag Administrations and consideration of alternative means for crediting survey of due items. 

However, there remains an ongoing need to undertake surveys on board to enable continued compliance and safe operation.  IACS recognises that the need to ensure that undertaking surveys does not introduce unnecessary risk is absolutely imperative for the safety and confidence of all concerned.

IACS is therefore committed to ensuring any potential physical interaction between surveyors and ships’ staff is planned and managed in a manner that recognises and addresses the personal risk to all involved, and the broader risk to the community from infection and proliferation of the COVID-19 virus.

IACS’ Expert Group on Safety of Surveyors has undertaken a review of measures adopted individually by Members.  The review showed that Members, taking into account all applicable National and International rules and recommendations with regard to safe measures during the COVID-19 pandemic, had adopted their own safe methods of working to address personal safety during the pandemic, and sharing experiences enabled good practices to be determined. 

Planning and communication between surveyors and ships’ personnel was noted as an essential precursor to work towards a safe outcome.  Members have provided their surveyors with the necessary training, both general awareness and locally applicable guidelines to enable such conversations to be effective.  Travel restrictions to prevent spread are strictly observed, and screening of ships’ prior itineraries also provides input.

Based on effective planning, Members generally apply a classical hierarchy to manage the risk: 

Eliminate

through conducting the survey through means not requiring attendance if possible

Substitute

through rearranging the survey to a location where the current COVID-19 threat lower; or redesigning the survey to reduce physical interaction

Control

through managing exposure using safe distancing, hygiene measures, health checks and quarantine

Administer

through observing safe systems of work that reduce the risk of exposure such as pre-survey health checklists, agreed onboard behavioural protocols

Use PPE

through use of PPE to protect the surveyor and ships’ staff from exposure and to prevent inadvertent transmission from personnel who are unknowingly infected

 

IACS has also shared its experience and practices for safe working with industry and has contributed to the ICS ‘COVID-19 Related Guidelines for Ensuring a Safe Shipboard Interface between Ship and Shore-based Personnel’ which are fully supported by IACS Members.

Whilst industry and its regulators recognise that classification and statutory surveys are an essential element of ensuring shipping continues to play its vital role in the world economy during the COVID-19 pandemic, all can also be confident that surveys by IACS Members will be performed in a manner that manages the safety risk to all concerned.

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