Prevention and preparedness in a pandemic

Bureau Veritas’ new class notations are tailored to the needs of the maritime industry as they aim to make ships safe during the Covid-19 pandemic

Prevention and preparedness in a pandemic

MSC Cruises

MSC Virtuosa was the first ship to be awarded the Biorisk notations

The year 2020 has been, due to Covid-19, a significant one for the cruise and ferry industries. Whilst some ferries continued to operate, mostly in freight-only mode, the cruise industry has come to a full stop. 

Bureau Veritas, acting quickly and to provide early support, developed Restart Your Business (RYB) in March and used our SafeGuard hygiene safety label to demonstrate assurance to operators, crew and passengers instead of a class notation. RYB is based on Bureau Veritas’ expertise in the hospitality industry and has been adapted to maritime needs by taking into account guidance from different sources such as the World Health Organization, International Maritime Organization and International Chamber of Shipping, as well as companies’ top-level commitments and policy.  

First, you have to identify potential risks both onshore and onboard the ship, which requires an Outbreak Management Plan. This plan contains the strategy for prevention, mitigation, and preparedness. Measures onboard range from social distancing, wearing face masks, testing, updates of heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems and dedicated procedures for hygiene and cleaning, to mention just a few. The main aim is risk mitigation. 

In June, Bureau Veritas published NI673 Guidelines for Management of Covid-19 and Infectious Diseases. Since then, we have certified several cruise and ferry companies. Over the course of the pandemic, we have continuously revised our approach by taking into account newly developed guidance.  

Simultaneously, Bureau Veritas was developing the class notations Biorisk Managed and Biorisk Secured, which have now been published and can be assigned to any ship type. Biorisk Managed focuses on establishment and implementation of an Outbreak Management Plan and follows the principles applied with RYB. Topics covered include onboard responsibilities and resource management, required supplies such as personal protective equipment and medical equipment, procedures, behavioural recommendations, crew training as well as modification of spaces and systems. Biorisk Secured builds on Biorisk Managed but requires, among other things, a dedicated quarantine area, fixed and portable equipment and the installation of high-efficiency particulate air filters. 

Bureau Veritas believes that to mitigate the risk, the focus should be on prevention and preparedness. This can be best achieved by working together. 

Andreas Ullrich is global market leader for passenger ships and ferries at Bureau Veritas 

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer issue of Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.

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By Andreas Ullrich
20 April 2021

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