Maritime workers need to be kept safe from coronavirus as nations around the world ease restrictions on people’s movements and increase trade
Seafarers, crew on marine service vessels and port workers will be under greater threat of Covid-19 infection as authorities worldwide attempt to return economies to pre-pandemic levels through trade.
But without the correct protection, these maritime key workers will be exposed to coronavirus infection.
British Tugowners Association’s new chairman Scott Baker has called on the UK Government to ensure the safety of key workers in maritime industries as the UK eases out of lockdown, increases trade through ports, and ship manoeuvring and docking requirements return.
His sentiment covers tug crews, seafarers, offshore and port workers. “These key workers have all played a key role in keeping the country open and trading,” Mr Baker said. He thanked their efforts so far in keeping maritime industries and trade going during the coronavirus crisis as the world’s governments tackle the challenges of coming out of lockdowns.
Mr Scott focused on the risks to UK-based workers in his first statement as British Tugowners Association chairman. “As we head into the reset and recover phase of the pandemic, we have seen restrictions eased by the UK Government,” Mr Baker said.
There are some disagreements between politicians in the four countries of the UK about the speed restrictions are lifted and on what parts of the economy. But there is consensus the UK is coming out of the severest part of the lockdown, which brings challenges to maritime industries, especially tug operations.
“While we all welcome the opportunity to get out, to start to see friends and family from a safe distance, we must heed caution,” says Mr Baker. "It is imperative key workers are not exposed to unnecessary risk which could jeopardise their health and their ability to carry out important work.”
Maritime key workers have kept countries supplied and functioning across Europe over the last few months.
“The last thing any of us want to see is a second spike in infections,” said Mr Baker, adding maritime workers continue to play a vital role as lockdown rules are eased. “It is imperative governments ensure their health and safety,” Mr Baker said, “and do not ease restrictions too fast.”
Protective equipment also needs to be considered for these key workers during lockdown easing. “We have come too far to jeopardise the health of so many,” Mr Baker concluded.
Get the latest information and viewpoints on maritime safety during Riviera Maritime Media’s series of webinar weeks on key technical subjects in shipping