The Maritime Labor Convention (MLC) and the standards set out by the ILO have taken the aspect of crew welfare to a whole new level. Stringent rules have come into play, mandating the right upkeep of the crew accommodation as well as general welfare.
Signatories to the convention are expected to uphold a certain degree of quality with regard to the health and hygiene and upkeep of the crew quarters, F&B, cleanliness etc. Inadequacy during a PSC inspection, non-maintenance of records for the same have become some of the leading reasons for ships to get detained at ports, especially at those that leave no room for slipping.
A detained vessel is a loss of business, time, as well as reputation. Word spreads quickly and vessels that don’t match up to the general standards of living are automatically deemed to get flack for their incompetence. Therefore, those Sunday inspections must be carried out with due diligence, ensuring that a respectable level of health and hygiene is maintained.
To start with, the Maritime Labor Convention as well as the DMLC (Declaration of Maritime Labor Compliance) are certifications that must be carried on board. The accommodation is a place where the most amount of time is spent and hence should be checked for thorough compliance. Following is a list of points a Master /Chief Officer can refer to while checking the accommodation:
1. Accommodation spaces, in general, must be kept clean and free of dirt and dust. All fittings must be checked, from the door hinges to the porthole hinges, to be in working order and are in place. Clothes must be arranged and not thrown around the cabin. Lifejacket and immersion suit must be kept in the space marked for the same.
2. All cabin portholes must be checked for water tightness. Any rust should be removed and primed/painted to ensure integrity in rough weather.
3. All cabins should be checked for running hot and cold water in the washrooms. The accepted tempreature for hot water designated by the MLC must be maintained. Shower heads, curtains, knobs etc. must be checked and replaced if damaged.
4. The bed, being the abode of every seafarer after work, must be checked for clean sheets, washed linen and overall tidiness. Stewards should be informed in case fresh linen, towels etc are required to be supplied. A requisition must be made for the same if the stores have run out.
5. The heating and ventilation in every cabin as well as common accommodation spaces, including the recreational room, should be checked for operational integrity. The outlet blades must be free of dirt and soot. The temperature must also be gauged so as to maintain the right temperature in the cabins/spaces and repairs made if not in order.
6. Smoking areas must be provided with the ubiquitous covered ashtrays. Open ashtrays tend to spill, leaving room for a probable disaster.
7. The lighting of the accommodation spaces should be checked. Adequate natural light as well as artificial lightings are to be judged by the Master for compliance. Any broken/non-functional lights must be replaced at the earliest.
8. The laundry room must be inspected for working order. The washing machines, separate for civil clothes and boiler suits/overall, adequate supply of detergent, the dryer’s maintenance must all be given a thorough check. A non-functional laundry room causes a lot of discomfort and results in an unhygienic environment.
9. Sanitary facilities in the common spaces as well the cabins are to be checked for good order. Supplies of personal care products, cleaning material to keep the space clean is imperative and be supplied to all crew at the beginning of every month.
10. Garbage segregation must be checked for in a room. The dustbins shouldn’t be overflowing and causing any unnecessary stench.
Ship carrying more than 15 people must have a dedicated hospital with basic amenities and equipment which also needs regular inspection. Checks should be made to ensure that separate set of linen, beddings, clothes etc. for patients are provided in the hospital. Medical chest provided in the hospital must also be inspected for presence of required medicine and expiry date. Medicine chest log to be inspected for date of disposal and new addition of medicines.
Basically, the crew accommodation must be kept clean altogether. Regular brooming and cleaning will reduce the unwanted long process on a Sunday and save everyone the hassle. Any marks on the bulkheads should be cleaned with the solution supplied by the steward.
The Master cannot be expected to check every nook and cranny of the spaces. Therefore, the crew must ensure that the spaces are their living quarters and the cleaner the area the better it is for everybody.
The mess room MUST be kept as clean as is humanly possible! A little effort by everybody will ensure that a healthy environment is maintained on ship, ensuring a disease free and fresh ambience for everyone to co habitat in.
Over to you..
Do you know any other important points that can be added to this list?
Let’s know in the comments below.
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Shilavadra Bhattacharjee is a shipbroker with a background in commercial operations after having sailed onboard as a Third Officer. His interests primarily lie in the energy sector, books and travelling.
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