Baleària aims to be first shipping line with BV COVID-19 safe certification

Written by Nick Blenkey
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Baleària's operations since the onset of the state of emergency have provided it the opportunity to pilot COVID-19 safe protocols

Spanish ferry operator Baleària says it will be the first shipping line in the world with Bureau Veritas certification that its ships and facilities are COVID-19 safe spaces. The news follows the launch by Bureau Veritas of a “Restart Your Business with BV” program aimed at helping a broad range of companies and public authorities to demonstrate that they have implemented appropriate protective measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Bureau Veritas’ objectives are to:

  • Ensure that health, safety and hygiene procedures put in place for the resumption of activity meet local and international regulations, as well as recognized best practices
  • Confirm that the procedures defined are relevant to the specific needs of the company’s area of business, and that they are effectively implemented
  • Deliver a certification or a conformity label

“More than ever, our role as an expert, independent third party is crucial to creating the conditions for trust in this restart period,” says Bureau Veritas CEO Didier Michaud-Daniel.

The requirements for the BV certification are specific to the differing needs of various business activities.

“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,” says 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 that it that it is working towards being the first shipping line in the world to obtain Global Safe Site COVID-19 certification at the highest level (Excellence) from BV, demonstrating 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 be testing for the possible presence of the virus on surfaces in order to obtain the certificate at Excellence level.

This certificate will demonstrate that Baleària goes beyond the guidelines of the Spanish 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 6 months with periodic inspections.

Baleària’s 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 COVID-19, through periodic inspections conducted by a laboratory. For the initial analysis samples will be taken from 12 ships and 2 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 exceptional analysis will be conducted.

Baleària currently operates 12 ships dedicated solely to freight and those passengers who are authorized to travel. Its operations since the state of emergency was first declared have provided the company with a pilot model to develop its safety protocols. A number of initiatives have been taken 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 form (restaurant, reception …). Baleària provides passengers with alcohol-based hand sanitizer, and since Monday, May 4, passengers have been required to wear a mask when traveling.

The company has set up a COVID-19 monitoring committee and a specific communication channel, and has optimized crew shift rotas to avoid infection on board.

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