Baleària Vessels to Be Certified as COVID-19 Safe
Shipping line Baleària says it is working toward being the first in the world to obtain the Global Safe Site COVID-19 badge at the highest level (Excellence) from certification and inspection body Bureau Veritas, certifying that its ships and the ferry terminals that it manages implement specific procedures, cleaning plans, organizational and personal protective measures to prevent COVID-19. The carrier will also periodically test for the possible presence of the virus on surfaces in order to obtain the certificate at Excellence level.
This certificate will guarantee that Baleària goes beyond the guidelines of the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization, conducting more complete, reinforced procedures beyond those indicated by said authorities in terms of safety and cleaning. Certification will cover 16 of the company's ships (the 12 currently in operation and an additional four expected to enter service when the current restrictions on passenger travel are lifted), as well as the two ferry terminals that it manages directly (Dénia and Valencia). Certification is expected to be issued in early June, and will be renewed every six months with periodic inspections.
"Travel by sea is better able than any other to guarantee safety, since the large spaces available on board allow distance to be maintained between passengers," said Baleària's president, Adolfo Utor. "At Baleària we are working to increase the inherent level of safety of this means of transport, and Bureau Veritas certification will provide a guarantee that our ships are the most trustworthy means of travel."
Baleària says its aim is to obtain the certificate at the Excellence level, for which Bureau Veritas will examine the effectiveness of its program by measuring appropriate disinfection of surfaces to deal with any possible presence of coronavirus, through periodic inspections conducted by a laboratory. For the initial analysis samples will be taken from 12 ships and two ferry terminals, with 19 analyses being performed, to be repeated each month on board two of the ships and at one ferry terminal. If a positive result is detected for any of the ships or facilities, an analysis will be conducted.
As for personal protective measures, the audit will systematically check the personal hygiene and social distancing provisions, the handling of PPE and identification of sensitive workers, among other elements. In terms of organizational measures, the aspects to be analyzed include cleaning and periodic disinfection, capacity reduction, staggered arrivals and departures, and measures to deal with infection or suspected cases. The inspection will lastly cover the cleaning and disinfection of the facilities, the adaptation of spaces and air renewal plans.
Baleària currently operates 12 ships dedicated solely to goods transportation, as well as passengers who are authorised to travel. This has meant that since the state of emergency was first declared crew members and passengers have been in daily coexistence, providing the shipping line with a pilot model to develop its safety protocols. Various initiatives have been taken in this regard, in addition to stepping up cleaning and disinfection. Crew members in contact with passengers wear a mask, and also gloves in the kitchen areas. Crowding is avoided by spacing out embarkation, disembarkation and areas where queues occur (restaurant, reception…). The shipping line provides passengers with alcohol-based hand sanitiser, and since Monday they have been required to wear a mask when traveling. Lastly, the company has set up a COVID-19 monitoring committee and a specific communication channel, while optimizing crew shift rotas to avoid infection on board.