​​This factsheet provides information for NSW based staff that work at a seaport.

Last updated: 03 October 2021

The Public Health (COVID-19 Maritime Quarantine) Order sets conditions on persons arriving on a vessel that:

  • Comes from a port outside of NSW,
  • Commenced its voyage outside of Australia,
  • Stopped at a port outside of Australia or
  • Picked up crew members at a port outside of Australia.

Can I board a vessel arriving to NSW?

Seaport or designated workers may only board a vessel if they are undertaking an essential task, if authorised by the current Public Health (COVID-19 Maritime Quarantine) Order 2021, or if issued an exemption. Movement onto a vessel should be minimised and considered, only if deemed necessary for the operation of the vessel or port dealings. 

Seaport workers must also receive permission to board a vessel from Port Authority (if they are contracted by the Port Authority) and/or their employer, if directly contracted by other port providers or operators (as the case may be).

Essential tasks include the following:

  1. Loading or unloading cargo
  2. Rigging gangways
  3. Undertaking ship to shore activities
  4. Connecting water or fuel to a vessel
  5. Receiving or loading stores
  6. Disposing of waste
  7. Carrying out essential maintenance on a vessel
  8. Carrying safety checks and activities
  9. Preparing a vessel for sailing
  10. Boarding the vessel as a medical or health practitioner to provide medical treatment or testing of a crew member

Authorised circumstances may include the following:

  1. Carrying out border security, customs, biosecurity or quarantine functions
  2. Boarding the vessel in an emergency
  3. Carrying out ship agent or ship classification surveyor functions
  4. Inspections and other functions carried out by regulatory authorities (including Port Authority staff, AMSA surveyors) union officials, cargo surveyors or insurance companies
  5. A member of staff or the operator of a terminal required to board the vessel to undertake ship to shore requirements

Before boarding, please ensure that seaport workers receive authorisation to board a vessel from Port Authority and their employer.

What do I need to do when boarding the vessel?

When boarding the vessel or undertaking an essential task, a person must:

  • Provide their contact details to the occupier of the wharf using the ServiceNSW app.
  • Maintain good personal hygiene and good social distancing - greater than 1.5m where possible. appropriately use and dispose of personal protective equipment (PPE), including face masks that are worn over the nose and mouth. perform hand hygiene before donning and after doffing any elements of PPE.
  • Disembark from the vessel as soon as the task is complete.

How long can I stay on the vessel for?

There is no enforced time limit that a seaport worker can stay aboard a vessel. Duration should be minimal and confined to completing task.  Essential personnel should not sleep on vessel.  However, precautions should be taken to minimise transmission of COVID-19 such as: 

  • Having a clean and hygienic environment – recommend all vessels are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected in high-touch areas prior to boarding.
  • Minimising the amount of time spent on board- especially in enclosed spaces where possible and practical.
  • Where possible, conduct meetings or tasks on open deck.
  • Minimising the face-to-face interactions personnel have with international persons where possible and practical.
  • Maintaining good personal hygiene and good social distancing - greater than 1.5m where possible.
  • Performing hand hygiene before donning (putting on) and after doffing (taking off) any elements of PPE.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

When interacting with an international vessel or a crew member in any way you must take reasonable steps to minimise exposure and spread of COVID-19 including use of appropriate PPE.

The employer is responsible for providing appropriate PPE to their employees to minimise the spread of COVID-19 and mitigate risk of exposure, in partnership with other COVID-19 safe measures.

PPE should be appropriately put on (donned), worn and removed (doffed).  Donning and doffing of PPE should be in accordance with the Clinical Excellence Commission (CEC)'s guidance. Disposable PPE can be placed into a general waste bin and hands should be sanitised immediately post removal of PPE.

The factsheet on Appropriate personal protective equipment for maritime workers has been developed to provide guidance on the types of PPE that may be applicable in various maritime based settings.

Am I eligible for the COVID-19 Vaccination?

Seaport workers are considered border workers that fall under the Phase 1a Vaccination rollout. Family members of seaport workers are also eligible for the COVID-19 Vaccination under Phase 1b.

For more information regarding the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, please visit Frequently asked questions – NSW Health Phase 1a/1b vaccine rollout.

What are the Support Services available to me?

There are a range of resources available to support the wellbeing Australian seaport workers. If you are experiencing personal crisis, or are concerned for a loved one, you can call the following services for assistance and counselling: 

  • Australian Red Cross on 1300 554 419 
  • 24/7 Lifeline crisis support line on 13 11 14 
  • Beyondblue on 1300 224 636. 

Other Helpful Information

Current as at: Sunday 3 October 2021
Contact page owner: Health Protection NSW