Port protection demands comprehensive protocols
2020, October 1: The response to a global pandemic must be immediate and precise. Time is of the essence and imprecision is counter-productive if not tragic.
Much of the collective response to a pandemic requires (read demands), personal and inter-personal behavioural change. Indeed, changing group behaviour … getting humans in social constructs to do differently what they have been doing … is always likely to be the first response action recommended in a public health crisis.
New behaviour in response to the pandemic must proceed from carefully developed plans from the competent authorities and taught to all port users and staff. The specifics and methods of all duties and protective strategies employed to fight this corona virus must therefore be documented in a comprehensive protocol. Against this background Barbados Port Inc.’s Covid-19 Stage 3 Protocol is instructive.
BARBADOS PORT INC. COVID-19 STAGE 3 PROTOCOL March 25, 2020
Marine Department General Responsibilities
The Captain of the entry vessel is required to submit the international medical health declaration via Agent to the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) 72 hours, 24 hours and 12 hours prior to arrival.
While in port, every 12 hours, the Captain will submit updated medical reports for crew and passengers.
During the inspection, the Port Health Physician has the right to read the deck logbook and other related documents.
Medical Officer of Health (Ports) may ask for detailed information about the Health situation in the vessel during its navigation course.
The Medical Officer of Health (Ports) may ask the Port Health Nurse and Environmental Health Officer to accompany them on board.
The Harbour Master will advise the pilots in consultation with Medical Officer of Health (Ports) on the status of all vessels prior to boarding.
Medical Officer of Health (Ports) will inform of the details regarding the status of the vessel’s current situation. In addition, the Doctor will advise the pilots accordingly, based on the infectious condition of the vessel.
Medical Officer of Health (Ports) will advise the pilots to wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) if necessary.
Pilots and Tug Captains
The CEO, Barbados Port Inc. through the Harbour Master can allow vessels entry to berth in the Port of Bridgetown by pilot exemption under special conditions.
To facilitate berthing of a vessel of special interest to the Health Authorities, the Harbour Master may grant pilotage exemption via radio contact with the vessel, with specific instruction of the timing of the berthing operation and the location of the berth. In such circumstances, the tug shall be in a standby position.
- The following measures will help Pilots to reduce risks:
Where possible, contact with persons on board the vessel should be limited to essential crew.
Pilots should wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) including surgical masks and gloves, while on board a vessel that meets the criteria for additional precautionary measures. Replace masks if they become damp or soiled.
Pilots should avoid touching their mouth, eyes, and nose with unwashed or gloved hands.
Pilots should wash their hands frequently while on board the vessel with soap and water, or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Where possible, pilots should stay one metre or more away from crew unless wearing appropriate PPE.
If a pilot becomes aware of any ill person on board, they should contact the Harbour Master, ask the vessel master to report the illness in their prearrival report and disembark accordingly.
While it is accepted that the risk to the Mooring Gang will be minimal, Barbados Port Inc. shall consult with the Chief Medical Officer or their assigns, on the most appropriate means for protecting personnel who will assist in mooring the vessel. This includes advice on and issuance of requisite PPE.
The Harbour Master reserves the right to direct the Master of the Vessel to use its crew to moor / unmoor the vessel.
Coast Guard: In extreme circumstances, Port Health can request Barbados Coast Guard’s help through the Chief Medical Officer and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health and Wellness.
Before departure of a vessel, the shipping agent is required to inform the Medical Officer of Health (Ports) at the earliest possible time of the following matters:
Name and nationality of vessel and scheduled date and time of departure.
Destination port and primary departure port.
Crew list and passenger manifest.
Type of cargo / cruise.
The Harbour Master is required to notify the Medical Officer of Health (Ports) at the earliest possible time of the vessel’s departure.
Medical Officer of Health (Ports) may ask the Captain or the Vessel Physician for further details about the state of health of the crew and the passengers as well as the sanitary situation on the vessel.
Upon completion of quarantine inspection of a vessel by the Port Health Officers, the Medical Officer of Health (Ports) must sign and issue an Exit Quarantine Permit without delay, with consent from the Chief Medical Officer.
Medical Officer of Health (Ports) will inform Barbados Port Inc. and Harbour Master to allow the ship permission to exit.
Maritime Ports of Entry will be closed to yachts / pleasure vessels.
Barbados Port Inc.’s website would be updated accordingly and the Harbour Master will inform the relevant websites.
Coastal Surveillance, Interception and Management
The Integrated Coastal Surveillance System (ICSS) identifies all vessels within the range of interest on approach to Barbados. Information is communicated to the Port via the Harbour Master.
Barbados Coast Guard to intercept all approaching yachts and other small vessels of interest and ensure the captains of such vessels are directed to report to the regulatory agencies at disembarkation before any further traversal on island.
Agency Border Management – Public Health
Port Health will have primary engagement to determine the maritime declaration of health, and to review the travel histories of passengers and crew aboard. After the satisfaction of the Port Health Agency, all / any other regulatory agency may engage.
Travel History Information Sharing
- BPI Maritime Single Window will be used for Clearances.
- Passenger travel history be automatically populated into the MSW via the Joint Regional Communications Centre.
- Special Cruise Ship Management Requirements
All cruise ships are to remain off shore at Anchorage Point with their crews onboard.
Medical personnel on board the ships are required to continue to submit a Medical Declaration of Health every 12 hours to the Ministry of Health through their agents, and copied to Barbados Port Inc.
Cruise Ships will be allowed in port only on the authorization of the Chief Medical Officer for the purpose of boarding supplies, fresh water and bunkering. Crew must remain on board the vessel. Shore leave IS NOT PERMITTED.
Anchorage positions (refer to Appendix I) have been established with the assistance of the Coastal Zone Management Unit to facilitate the anchoring of six large vessels in the Carlisle Bay Area and four anchorages for smaller vessels off Speightstown.
Special Cargo Vessel Management Requirements
Interaction with any vessel shall be based on clearance provided by the health authorities.
No cargo vessel will be handled by the Marine Services Department unless cleared to do so by the CMO.
No crew will be allowed on shore except to secure gangway.
Shore leave IS NOT PERMITTED.
Each ship will establish a “hand washing station” at the top of the gangway. All persons boarding will wash their hands for 20 seconds. ALL persons will use hand sanitizer and / or wash their hands frequently while onboard.
While on board there are to be no more than ten (10) Stevedores per hatch at any time and social distancing must be observed.
Before and after each port call, cleaning of the public areas with a water and bleach solution will be performed within two (2) hours of discharge/departure of vessel using best efforts.
The Captain must ensure there are no crew on deck while ship is working as far as is practical. There must be a separation of crew while Stevedores are onboard.
Immediately following disembarkation from deck, stevedores are required to wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after removing gloves for sanitization before storage.
On completion of personal sanitization operations, Stevedores will promptly depart the port facility.
- Manifests shall continue to be submitted electronically via ASYCUDA / OCTOPI within the 24-hour timeframe.
- Agents and stevedores are advised that effective immediately and until further notice, the daily briefing meeting will be conducted as needed and/or via a video conference as required. In addition, any other requisite information will be shared via email.
- There are to be no more than ten (10) persons in any working area at any time.
- Delivery of goods continue to be subject to Customs and Excise Department release.
BPI shall only work vessels that have submitted and are following a strict Covid-19 protocol. BPI is activating with immediate effect the Health and Safety Committee with representation from Port Management and union delegates, under the leadership of the HS&E Officer. These Protocols will be supervised by the Committee which will review and confirm the vessel protocol for each operation.
Deliveries will continue as per daily demand.
A special task force has been assigned to work with consignees on a daily basis assisting with the resolution of issues to facilitate clearance and delivery of containers.
The BPI Hotline (246-434-6101) will be reactivated to address customer queries and concerns regarding cargo delivery.
Commercial Deliveries (Shed 4)
Commercial deliveries shall be done by appointments only.
Consignees will submit a request by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 246-434-6100 ext. 5405/6/7.
BPI clerk will assign a date / time for collection and notify consignees by telephone / email.
Shallow Draught: This operation shall continue as normal, however, the number of consignees allowed within the shed shall be restricted based on the availability of quarantine officers.
Personal Effects (Shed 2)
Personal effects shall be delivered by appointments only.
Customers must call to obtain an appointment and come only when advised.
If a customer enters the shed who displays symptoms of respiratory illness, the area will be immediately closed for sanitization before service levels are resumed.
Multilevel sanitization protocols across all levels
BPI will provide all necessary PPE and training in its correct use to ensure the safety and welfare of all frontline employees.
Where the operation requires specific PPE that is not available at the Port, the Chief Medical Officer shall provide PPE to the relevant Port Personnel from their resources.
BPI will communicate in conjunction with Port Health and update the workers’ representatives of current matters regarding any threat to the workers’ health and wellness.
Cleaning & Disinfection
If surfaces are dirty, they should be cleaned using a detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
For disinfection, diluted household bleach solutions, alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol, and most common EPA-registered household disinfectants should be effective.
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Hand Hygiene
Cleaning staff should wear disposable gloves for all tasks in the cleaning process, including handling trash.
o Gloves should be compatible with the disinfectant products being used.
o Additional PPE might be required based on the cleaning/disinfectant products being used and whether there is a risk of splash.
o Gloves should be removed carefully to avoid contamination of the wearer and the surrounding area. Be sure to clean hands after removing gloves.
Cleaning staff should immediately report breaches in PPE (e.g., tear in gloves) or any potential exposures to their supervisor.
Cleaning staff and others should clean hands often, including immediately after removing gloves by washing hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available and hands are not visibly dirty, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60%-95% alcohol may be used. However, if hands are visibly dirty, always wash hands with soap and water.
Cleaning teams will clean and sanitise work areas three (3) times daily (refer to Appendix II), sanitising being focused on:
o All bathrooms / toilets will be cleaned every two (2) hours
o Additionally, cleaning teams will be assigned based on vessel operations and utilize the Standard Operating Procedure for Infectious Diseases.
Solid Waste Management: Waste generated outside the port environment will not be handled during this time.
- The Port will explore alternatives to assist in reducing the possible transmission of the virus to employees and to foster social distancing. Where facilities are in place, employees will work remotely.
- Staff deployment will be in accordance with the national directive.
- The Port will ensure the employees contact information and emergency details are updated. Staff will be encouraged to download and utilize the Orange HRM app to receive Company updates on any adjustments to work.
- Dependent on the daily work requirements, administrative staff will work every other day, maintaining their current hours of work.
- Direct labour and support staff, including Shed management, will be engaged to provide minimal operational service levels. For example, delivery points will be consolidated at the Sheds.
- On completion of Ship Operations, Stevedores will promptly depart the port facility. There are to be no more than ten (10) persons in any working area at any time.
- The Harbour Master shall on a daily basis, review the vessel activity schedule to release personnel once no further operations are pending. On completion of operations, Marine personnel will promptly depart the port facility on approval of the Harbour Master, who shall reserve the right to recall labour as deemed necessary.
- Exceptions to the above include Security Officers, Engineering Technicians, Health Safety and Environmental Officer, Signalmen, Messengers, Janitresses and General Workers.
- Management may need to alter the above arrangements from time to time to suit the exigencies of the operations.
Financial services – Payment management services to minimize contact and facilitate payments at Stage 3 of the Covid-19 response plan, electronic payment options are available:
Prepayment accounts- Requests to be sent via to email@example.com and copied to firstname.lastname@example.org. Once the deposit is agreed and paid, the account will be used to process transactions until funds are depleted. BPI will advise of available funds and indicate further top-ups as needed.
Direct deposits- Instructions can be obtained by emailing email@example.com and copied to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where consignees elect to pay via the Cashier at the Administration Building, transactions will be limited to four (4) persons at a time.
With effect from June 1, 2020, customers will be able to access online payment facilities.
Information Technology – Taking the Port Virtual
- Commercial Cargo (LCL)
With effect from April 3rd, 2020, consignees can transact commercial cargo business using online facilities.
With effect from March 30, 2020, customers can utilize the BPI Cargo Tracking Portal www.barbadosport.com to transact personal effects business.
- Containerised Cargo (FCL)
BPI shall continue to use the Terminal Operating System (TOS) to manage container transactions.
Inter-Agency Collaboration – Regulatory Management and Clearances
The Port Facility Security Officer (PFSO) will review the security status daily and follow the appropriate protocol.
Notwithstanding the above, BPI will heighten its security posture.
BPI will enhance collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Coast Guard, Marine Police, Coastal Zone Management Unit (CZMU) and Integrated Coastal Surveillance System (ICSS) in patrolling coastal waters and ensuring compliance with applicable legislation.
BPI will continue to follow the protocols established with Customs & Excise Department, Port Health and Plant Quarantine, Immigration Department, Royal Barbados Police Force and Barbados Defence Force.
The BPI Maritime Single Window shall be used by relevant stakeholders, who have been trained, to clear all vessels.
BPI shall use best efforts to facilitate meeting via telecommunications and online conference technology with its stakeholders.
BPI will refer to its Crisis Communication document within the Port Emergency Response Plan for all communication.
Top level management – Protection of leadership team to ensure sustainability of the Port leadership.
All Board of Directors and Management meetings shall be facilitated through video conferencing.
Business meetings will be conducted remotely; only face-to-face when necessary maintaining appropriate social distance.
Facilities for working remotely will be provided.