Marine Log

November 1, 2006

Seafarer health screening prevents P&I claims

Pre-employment health screening for seafarers recruited by shipowner members of the American P&I Club has resulted in massive savings.

The club estimates that so far its PEME (Pre-Employment Medical Examination) program, introduced in March 2004, has led to the prevention of illness-related claims equating to about $6 million.

Dr William Moore, vice president in charge of loss prevention and technical services at Shipowners Claims Bureau Inc., the club's managers, said in New York: "The health and well-being of seafarers is now a highly important factor in ship operation. Vessels are getting bigger and more sophisticated by the day, yet crews are becoming smaller. That means greater responsibility shared by a fewer number of people, so the focus is on individual fitness for purpose.

"The modern ship is a highly complex piece of machinery that demands efficient handling and proper care and maintenance," said Moore. "Ship managers are increasingly conscious that the ever-changing on-board environment means that the crews they employ must be up to scratch physically and mentally."

"Employment pre-screening goes a long way towards eliminating most if not all of these concerns." he noted.

As an example of the club's strict requirements for PEMEs, its form used by clinics in Romania covers 21 comprehensive tests, including psychological and drug and alcohol tests. If any test results in a failure, the clinic has to provide an explanation/reason.

Meanwhile, the club has extended its program by approving two more clinics in Bucharest and Constanza, Romania.

Furthermore, additional clinics in Russia are expected to be authorized over the coming months.

Due to the success of the scheme, from next February it will be mandatory for seafarers from Latvia, Poland, Romania and Russia to have their medical checks at the approved clinics. To date, the mandatory use of club-approved clinics has only applied to clinics in the Philippines and Ukraine.

The two new clinics in Romania are Bio-Medica International S.A. and Iowemed Medical Center.