As we learn what the “new normal” will be in regards to vessel and worksite attendances we feel the need to share the lessons we are learning so others may consider the issues facing marine inspections.
Any attendance carried out by Aluciant personnel is generally well planned and executed to the best practices and guidelines available at the time. Situations may arise that require a little “out of the box” thinking, but generally these are well assessed and executed accordingly.
The risk mitigation factors put in place for any attendance need to be robust enough to protect the crew onboard the vessel, asset, or location and our inspectors. We provide PPE for our inspectors and instructions for their attendance. Those instructions may be enhanced by client requirements, but always err on the cautious side to prevent any exposure to other personnel. Masks are required, frequent hand washing or use of sanitizer, social distancing etc.
The following is a summary of the good and the bad… from our perspective.
An industry-standard audit. The instructions were clear, forthright, and understood by all parties prior to initiating travel. The client requested that the attending surveyor had been self-isolating for at least 14 days and remained symptom-free prior to travel. There were temperature checks prior to boarding and a period of self-isolation on completion of the inspection, as it was a local attendance for the surveyor a private car was used and social distancing was relatively simple to maintain during travel. The inspection was completed without incident and the vessel proceeded to the project without issue.
Another industry standard audit: This required further risk assessment and mitigation as multiple-leg air travel was required. The enhanced planning identified a period of quarantine in a hotel after travel, and antibody testing prior to boarding and being permitted to interact with the crew without additional PPE.
With clear communications throughout and accepted procedures in place, the inspection was completed without incident. The attending surveyor did not travel until confirming not having any symptoms for the previous 14 days, their temperature was checked every day in the hotel, and social distancing maintained throughout. The inspection was completed without issue. The surveyor self-isolated on arrival back to their home base and at no time presented any symptoms.
The bad? An inspector traveled (by air) to a hotel and completed a quarantine period of 48 hours, during this time crew were observed at the bar without masks, going for walks around the city, and minimal social distancing. A PCR COVID test was carried out and the results were positive for the inspector. (We will not enter arguments on false positives or negatives here.) On receipt of the results, there was no communication, assistance, or support provided to the inspector from the end client, just instruction to “demobilize immediately”, placing the inspector and their family at higher risk.
Aluciant will support this inspector in any way we can for the next two weeks as they isolate from their family/undertake a second screening.
Lessons learned and updating our policy
From the above, we have decided that without sufficient risk assessment, mitigation, and policies/procedures from the client, Aluciant will not accept the work instruction.
Aluciant will carry out our own risk assessment, additional to any from our clients, for each attendance in the current pandemic, utilizing any guidance available (CDC, WHO, etc.) This must include scenarios where a test returns a positive result and what the subsequent actions are by all parties if not included in the original work instruction. If this is not acceptable to the client the work will be declined.
We will not risk our staff, contractors, or their families’ health because of insufficient risk assessment and subsequent planning.