Spanish-based ferry operator, Baleària is aiming to become the world’s first shipping line to obtain the Global Safe Site Covid-19 award at the highest level (Excellence) from Bureau Veritas (BV).
This will certify that its ships and ferry terminals have implemented specific procedures, cleaning plans, organisational and personal protective measures, to prevent the spread of the virus.
Baleària will also be periodically testing for the possible presence of the virus on surfaces in order to obtain the certificate at Excellence level.
This certificate will also guarantee that Baleària goes beyond the guidelines of the Spanish Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation, by conducting more complete, reinforced procedures beyond those indicated by the authorities in terms of safety and cleaning, the company claimed.
Certification will cover 16 of the company’s ships (12 currently in operation and another four expected to enter service when the current restrictions on passenger travel are lifted), as well as the two ferry terminals managed directly located at Dénia and Valencia.
A certificate is expected to be issued in early June, and will be renewed every six months upon periodic inspections.
Baleària explained that it was aiming to obtain the certificate at the Excellence level, by which BV will examine the effectiveness of its initiative by measuring the appropriate disinfection of surfaces to deal with any possible presence of Covid-19, through inspections conducted by a laboratory.
Initial analysis samples will be taken from the 12 ships and two terminals, with 19 analyses being performed, which will then be repeated each month on board two ships and at one ferry terminal.
If a positive result is detected, an exceptional analysis will be conducted.
Baleària’s president, Adolfo Utor, said; “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.
“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,” he claimed.
As for personal protective (PPE) 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.
With regard to organisational measures, the aspects to be analysed include cleaning and periodic disinfection, capacity reduction, staggered arrivals and departures and measures to deal with infection or suspected cases. Lastly, the inspection will cover the cleaning and disinfection of the facilities, the adaptation of spaces and air renewal plans.
Baleària currently operates 12 ships dedicated to freight transportation, as well as those passengers who are authorised to travel.
This has meant that since the Spanish state of emergency was first declared, crew members and passengers have been in daily co-existence, providing Baleària with a pilot model to develop its safety protocols, the company explained.
Various initiatives were undertaken, in addition to increasing cleaning and disinfection. Crew members who are in contact with passengers wear a mask, and also gloves when in the kitchen areas.
Crowding is avoided by spacing out embarkation, disembarkation and areas where queues occur (restaurant, reception, etc).
In addition, Baleària now provides passengers with alcohol-based hand sanitisers, and since 4th May, they have been required to wear a mask when travelling.
Finally, the company has set up a COVID-19 monitoring committee and a specific communications channel, while optimising crew shift rosters to avoid infection on board.