15:00 April 3rd 2020
Since the outbreak of COVID-19 and the declaration by WHO (World Health Organization) as a pandemic, our lives have changed dramatically. Most of us work remotely from the safety of our homes. There are people though who keep taking care of our well-being like health professionals, people working in groceries/pharmacies, and of course seafarers who many times are overlooked.
Despite a de facto lockdown situation in many countries, aiming at reducing the speed at which the virus spreads, many of our daily needs remain. There is still the same demand for supplies, medicines, foods, and other essential goods. These goods are not growing or produced in every country of the world – 92% are transported by sea and this may be a number that will increase for the next few months considering that airlines have reduced their operations substantially.
As a result of the border and travel restrictions, hundreds of thousands of seafarers are required to stay onboard for an extended time and cannot return as planned to see their loved ones. This is a big challenge for their wellbeing and of course, directly impacts their families as well in many ways. Just imagine how risky it may be these days for a parent to attend a grocery shop with their children where there is a significant possibility of having those children exposed to the virus as they are left to take care of their children on their own. Seafarers are husbands, wives, sons, daughters, and grandchildren – they are “people, usually far from home and family. Their health and welfare are as important as those of anyone else”
Forcing seafarers to work to extend their time onboard for not only weeks but potentially months will compromise their wellbeing severely. OSM provides several support options to the seafarers including professional mental health hotlines. We have also taken steps to protect our seafarers, especially in ports when external visitors or workers board the ships. Despite our substantial and continued efforts to provide the best possible support, we remain concerned about a potential impact on the safety of the ships. Safe operations are essential for global supply chains and thus for the availability of goods worldwide (medicines, food supplies, fuel, etc).
In strong support of our seafarers and their families, OSM embraces the message from IMO’s Secretary-General Kitack Lim where he states that we need to adopt a “practical and pragmatic approach” – “crew changeovers, resupply, repairs, survey and certification and licensing of seafarers”.
Seafarers play a significant part in the global economy. They are the moving power of the global supply chain and we need to support them in doing their job professionally – we need to support them in serving the global economy with their efforts to enable the delivery of goods, medicines, fuel, etc to our countries and eventually to our homes.
OSM is actively engaging with major industry associations such as BIMCO, Intertanko, and IMEC to name a few, in a joint initiative to maintain global supply chains by allowing seafarers free movement from and to their ships.
08:30 March 27th 2020
One of our values in OSM is “Team Builders”. Especially in an unprecedented situation like now, building teams with our crew and with our customers have become even more important. The travel of our seafarers remains largely impacted by the effects of closed borders around the globe to buy time for the health systems and save lives.
We fully support the critical and important measures to slow the spread of the pandemic. These actions have a significant social and economic impact on our societies, and we are all hopeful that they will help to overcome this humanitarian crisis.
Extensive movement restrictions also mean a large impact to our seafarers and their families at home and onboard. We are grateful to each one of them for their patience and understanding. Nevertheless, we are very conscious of the sorrows which our people may have. We have therefore increased the capacity and scope of our professional medical and mental helplines significantly. At the same time, we have initiated interactive live events on social media with the families of our seafarers. We are taking the well-being of our people very seriously and remain committed to providing them with the best possible support.
OSM Maritime remains fully operational from hundreds of private offices which our people have set up at their homes. As true team builders beyond physical locations and company limits, our people keep communicating and collaborating closely. Without the remarkable support of their families, we would not be able to keep doing what we are committed to helping our customers in keeping global maritime and offshore supply chains going, with safe operations.
Especially in these exceptional circumstances, we are very thankful to various governmental agencies, regulators, industry associations, and other partners around the globe for the constructive dialogues and for the assistance we receive.
We would like to reassure all our customers that we are here to help and support – professionally and with confidence that we will overcome this global humanitarian challenge together.
10:04 Wednesday March 18th 2020
We know that our crew, customers, partners, suppliers, and families are following the COVID-19 developments closely and recognize the extraordinary global pandemic situation. It is changing continuously, and it is highly dynamic. We hope the measures now being put in place around the globe will help to save lives and avoid a further spread. The safety, wellbeing, and health of all our people on board and ashore, our customers, and our partners are our prime concern.
Unfortunately, this situation means that some of our seafarers who had either planned to return home to see their loved ones cannot now do so and others cannot commute to work. Whilst we are keeping our customers updated continuously, we would like to share the latest measures we have taken, based on best practice guidance from WHO and health experts:
WORK FROM HOME (WFH)
- We have implemented “work from home” (WFH) for all offices. Anyone must only come to the office if there is a business-critical need, for example in case of incident response.
- We are implementing this arrangement in order to reduce social exposure and mitigate the risk for our people. The latest expert advice encourages physical social distancing in an effort to reduce the speed by which the virus spreads.
- We have developed work from home guidelines for our employees which cover practical aspects such as ensuring a good flow of information as well as social and mental health elements.
- Many countries have closed their borders or are enforcing other restrictions which are now impacting free movement in the immediate future. Therefore, we are unable to execute all crew changes as planned in most operational areas.
- So, for the time being, we are asking the crew to remain on board due to this unprecedented situation. This is a decision we have taken with the maximum consideration for the health and well-being of all concerned.
- Regional conditions and circumstances may vary, and we are taking care of specific considerations.
- We have established additional administrative and medical (incl. mental health) helplines for our crew.
- We are taking the necessary preparations to resume crew changes as soon as practical.
We recognize the importance of good communication, flexibility, and adaptability during these unprecedented circumstances. Therefore, we have strengthened our communication efforts with all stakeholders. We would like to assure all our customers that we are here to help and support – professionally and with confidence that we will overcome this global humanitarian challenge together. We are taking the situation very seriously and are committed to ensuring continued safe operations.