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Longshore Insider
Coronavirus in the Maritime Industry: Guidelines for Keeping Workers Safe
Mar 27, 2020 - The American Equity Underwriters, Inc.

This article was recently published on March 6, 2020. It is reviewed and updated periodically with guidance from the CDC.

With the recent outbreak of COVID-19, many maritime employers are concerned about the implications for their workforce. At AEU, we are monitoring the situation and will provide timely updates to ALMA members as required.

In the meantime, we recommend that all maritime employers encourage their workforce to follow the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to remain safe and healthy. Below, we have outlined some of the guidance provided by the CDC as of March 26, 2020.

 

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The outbreak first started in China, but the virus continues to spread internationally and in  the United States. Coronaviruses are a group of common viruses. Most coronaviruses aren’t dangerous. These viruses cause respiratory tract infections. They usually cause mild to moderate upper-respiratory infections, like the common cold.

COVID-19 is a new coronavirus considered a community spread virus in some geographic areas. It is also known as the novel coronavirus. The COVID-19 virus may cause more severe illnesses such as pneumonia or bronchitis.

Those most at risk of severe symptoms are the elderly and people with pre-existing conditions such as:

  • Weakened immune systems
  • Heart and lung disease
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity

 

How is COVID-19 spread?

COVID-19 is a new disease and we are still learning how it spreads. We do know the virus spreads from person-to-person, usually through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes and someone is near the person (within six feet). While not the main way to acquire the virus, there is a possibility to spread the virus by touching a surface with the virus and then touching your mouth or nose.  The CDC is not certain of the length of time the virus lives on a surface.

 

What are the signs/symptoms of COVID-19?

The below signs and symptoms will typically appear 2 and 14 days after exposure:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Emergency warning signs:
    • Trouble breathing
    • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
    • Bluish lips or face
    • New confusion or ability to arouse

If someone develops symptoms and has been in close contact with a person know to have COVID-19, they should report this to a medical professional. If emergency warning signs are present, seek medical attention immediately.

What is the quarantine period for COVID-19?

When a person who is suspected of being exposed to the virus is separated from the community to ensure they have not developed the illness, the quarantine period is 14 days from last exposure.

What is the 15-Day Pause?

The White House presented the 15-day pause to the entire country where citizens limited outings and made every effort to work from home. This was an effort designed to slow and limit spread of COVID-19. It is yet to be determined if the Pause may extend longer than 15 days.

What are the preventative measures?

  • Wash your hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer frequently
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when coughing or sneezing
  • Avoid close unprotected contact with anyone with respiratory symptoms
  • Practice social distancing (6 feet distance from another individual)
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Face masks should be worn by those showing symptoms of the virus

 

What is the treatment for COVID-19?

  • There is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for COVID-19
  • It is recommended to receive treatment of the symptoms by a healthcare provider
  • Severe cases will have treatment to support vital organ functions

 

What is the testing for COVID-19?

  • If someone suspects they were exposure to the virus, they should contact their healthcare professional
  • The state and local health departments, along with the CDC, will determine whether testing is indicated

 

CDC recommended strategies for employers to consider using for their workplace:

This interim guidance is based on what is currently known about the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will update this interim guidance as additional information becomes available.

The following interim guidance may help prevent workplace exposures to COVID-19, in non-healthcare settings. (CDC has provided separate guidance for healthcare settings.) This guidance also provides planning considerations for community spread of COVID-19.

To prevent stigma and discrimination in the workplace, use only the guidance described below to determine risk of COVID-19 infection. Do not make determinations of risk based on race or country of origin and be sure to maintain confidentiality of people with confirmed coronavirus infection. There is much more to learn about the transmissibility, severity, and other features of COVID-19 and investigations are ongoing. Updates are available on CDC’s web page.

  • It is recommended to avoid all travel to essential due to the public health threat posed by COVID-19. There is currently restriction to travel outside of the U.S.
  • Employers should send home those employees who come to work with respiratory illness
  • Actively encourage sick employees to stay home if you are still working onsite
  • Encourage work at home for all eligible employees
  • Employers may consider a 14-day quarantine at home for employees in close contact with anyone who has traveled to an affected geographic area
  • Emphasize good hygiene and covering coughs and sneezes
  • Perform thorough environmental cleaning of the workplace
  • Advise employees if they have symptoms of acute respiratory illness before traveling to consider staying home
  • Instruct employees they are to notify their supervisor if they become sick
  • Ensure your company is distributing the company policy for obtaining medical care in and outside of the United States
  • Employees who are well but who have a sick family member at home with COVID-19 should notify their supervisor of their potential exposure and stay home
  • If an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19, they should contact their physician and remain out of work until symptoms resolve. Employers may also consider requiring that medical tests are negative before they are permitted to return. For additional guidance for businesses and employers to plan and respond to COVID-19, visit the online CDC business section.


If you are an ALMA member and have additional questions about AEU’s stance on COVID-19, please contact your AEU Managing Director.

 


REFERENCES


The opinions and comments expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not reflect the opinion of ALMA, AEU or AmWINS. None of ALMA, AEU, AmWINS or the authors are responsible for any inaccuracy of content or for any loss or damages incurred by any party as a result of reliance on information contained in this article. Content may not be published or reproduced without the written consent of the authors. Prior articles may not be updated for accuracy as pertinent information changes over time. The Longshore Insider is intended to provide general information about the industry and should not be construed as legal advice under any circumstances. For legal advice, please consult a licensed attorney.
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