While conditions on vessels and rigs (particularly those that may be Flags of Convenience) can be dangerous, danger lurks onshore as well as offshore. One hazard overseas workers may encounter onshore are diseases and illnesses native to the foreign country. Anytime an offshore worker goes onshore, they risk the chance of catching an illness that could potentially jeopardize their life and career.
There are many precautions that maritime workers can take to either reduce their risk of infection or, in the case of an injury, minimize the aftermath of getting hurt in a foreign country.
To Prevent Contraction of Infectious Diseases
- Get all appropriate shots and medical tests before your deployment. It is imperative that you check with the embassy of the foreign country you will be visiting for any shots and tests that you may need.
- You can find a vaccination checklist on the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) website.
- The CDC also offers tips on how to stay healthy and safe while onshore.
- Be informed. Anytime you venture onshore, you should be aware of the possible risks and dangers of that region. Doing so will enable you to avoid situations that may otherwise cause injury.
- The World Health Organization provides a list of country health profilesthat may prove useful in informing you of the risks of particular countries.
- The CDC offers more health information on what shots are recommended and how to prepare for you trip to particular countries.
Planning for Possible Illness or Injury
Even if you take into consideration the above measures, there is still a chance you can sustain injuries off or onshore. If this happens, it is in your best interest to have a plan in place. You may want to consider the following before you work overseas on a vessel or rig:
- Does your medical insurance cover you while you are overseas? Many times travelers and workers abroad assume that their health insurance will cover any accidents that happen in foreign countries. Employers will sometimes haveForeign Voluntary Workers’ Compensation policies in case their employees are injured abroad. This, unfortunately, is not always the case, and so it is your responsibility to check with your company for health insurance options or to secure your own before your departure. The Bureau of Consular Affairs providesFAQs and resources for medical insurance.
- The CDC also offers information on obtaining travel health insurance and evacuation insurance.
- Do you know what health care facilities are reputable and can provide you the care you need? The health care quality of foreign countries, particularly in third world countries, may not be up to the standards of the U.S., and so the risk of injury complications may increase. To find medical lists for specific countries, visit the U.S. Embassies and Consulates websites.
- The CDC provides information on locating a health care provider abroad and gives recommendations on how to prepare for an injury and how to respond to the risks of improper medical facilities.