Research Summary - Medical Requirements
- As part of the Pilotage Act Review
Dr. K. Corbet
As part of the Oceans Protection Plan announced in 2016, the Government of Canada committed to a review of the Pilotage Act to support the delivery of safe, efficient and environmentally responsible marine pilotage services. To assess one element of operational safety, a comparative review of the medical fitness standards for seafarers and pilots was requested by Transport Canada Marine Personnel Standards and Pilotage.
The objectives of this report are:
- Describe and compare the medical standards for the assessment of medical fitness of seafarers in Norway, United Kingdom, United States, Australia, Canada and the International Labour Organization/International Maritime Organization Guidelines on the medical examinations of seafarers
- List and compare the medical conditions included in these national medical standards
- Describe and compare how the four regional Pilotage Authorities in Canada assess the medical fitness of their pilots
- Propose options for how Transport Canada and the Pilotage Authorities can move towards ‘best practice’ for the medical fitness assessment of Canadian marine pilots
Based on a documentary review of international standards and interviews with each of the Canadian Pilotage Authorities, the key findings and issues were:
- The process for assessing the medical fitness of pilots varies widely among the Canadian Pilotage Authorities
- The current system for the assessment of medical fitness is not specific for marine pilots – seafarer medical examinations do not fully meet the needs of the Authorities
- The current system is prone to errors, failures, and delays.
Key recommendations are:
- Develop and implement a description of the pilots’ job demands and working conditions for each Authority, taking into account local operating conditions
- Prepare a ‘plain language’ summary of the legal duties pilots and treating physicians have to report medical conditions and medications that are ‘likely to constitute a hazard to marine safety’; enable the effective communication of medical and fitness information among persons and parties with a ‘need to know’
- Undertake a job demands analysis of pilot positions in each Authority, with consideration of local working conditions
- Develop a standard list of phrases that describe work limitations/restrictions specific for marine pilots, and ensure that all physicians examining pilots refer to them when applying restrictions
- Compile, and make available on-line, selected content from the international guidelines, searchable by medical condition.
- Review the continuing education of Marine Medical Examiners, in light of current educational standards for the continuing professional development of physicians; develop a long-term educational strategy for physicians who assess the medical fitness of pilots and seafarers.
- Review the current marine medical examination protocol and look for ways to improve the relevancy, validity, and reliability of the assessment
- Implement a quality assurance program for the Pilotage Authorities in accordance with an internationally recognized standard