By Madelyn Tan, Assistant HSSEQ Manager
Business continuity planning has assumed a high priority since the beginning of this decade, which began with the unforgettable 9/11 incident claiming almost 3,000 lives. Since then, we have seen many terrorist attacks as well as natural disasters happening around the world. It is therefore imperative for businesses to plan for resilience.
Sourcing for personal protective equipment (PPE) during the COVID-19 pandemic proved to be a challenge. The main factors that contribute to this challenge was over demand and shortage of supplies worldwide. There was an over demand because no corporation or country in the world was prepared for this pandemic and no manufacturer was prepared for this surge of demand for PPE.
With experience from previous novel acute respiratory infections with pandemic potential (e.g. influenza and SARS) in Singapore, Thome’s head office have maintained a steady stock of PPE. These PPE included surgical gloves, cleaning and disinfectant liquids, surgical masks, N95 masks, safety goggles and thermometers. These items are periodically checked for their expiry and quality to ensure the items are fit for use.
Alcohol sanitisers, were however, not part of Thome’s inventory list .The reason for omitting alcohol sanitisers was simply due to its high flammability. Safety is always our number one consideration in the organisation.
To protect our ships and crew from the pandemic, HSSEQ circular 23/2020 on how to maintain personal hygiene, best practices on how to stay healthy and how to correctly use/put on PPE was sent onboard. We have also aided vessels that were unable to obtain the necessary PPE during their Singapore call and through our procurement and supply chain, we secured PPE to supply to the rest of the fleet.
To maintain the mental health and morale of our seafarers during these difficult times, to encourage and cheer them on, our Corporate Communications department launched various posters and campaigns on social media.
If we refer to the hierarchy of controls (mitigation measures) in risk management, PPE is the lowest level of control. As such, we encourage our crew and staff to take active control measures such as maintaining their personal hygiene by washing hands frequently and practice social distancing.