Sharp rise in screening of PMSCs

Maritime security companies in the UK have stepped up drug and alcohol screening

Sharp rise in screening of maritime security staff

Maritime security companies in the UK have stepped up drug and alcohol screening of their staff in the wake of the Maersk Alabama tragedy earlier this year.

Testing firm BioClinics has seen a big rise in the number of pre-employment and random tests carried out in the industry since the deaths of two US security officers on the cargo ship in February.

The bodies were discovered when the Maersk Alabama docked in the Seychelles. A cocktail of heroin and alcohol was blamed for their deaths.

BioClinics, which is based in Salford, Greater Manchester has seen the number of tests it carries out for the industry each month rocket from 150 to over 500 since details of the tragedy emerged.

Demand has come from companies implementing screening regimes for their staff for the first time, as well as from established clients.

Nichola McChrystal, scientific director at BioClinics, said the Maersk Alabama incident has thrust the issue of screening and vetting maritime security personnel into the spotlight.

Another factor driving the sharp rise in testing has been a rush by firms to gain accreditation under the new international industry standard, ISO 28007.

Its introduction followed calls by the International Maritime Organization for regulatory guidelines focusing on maritime security companies.

Nichola said: “The focus on armed on-board security for ships travelling on insecure routes has been increasing at a rapid rate.

“The new industry standard has put pressure on maritime security companies regarding staff screening, while the Maersk Alabama incident received so much worldwide attention that firms started being asked by their clients how they vet their operatives and whether they undergo continuous drug testing.

“Also, drug-testing regimes have become a prerequisite for tender submissions and service contracts.

“As a result of these factors, the number of tests we carry out has soared from 150 a month at the start of this year to over 500 in April, with further growth in May.

“It’s due to companies opting to screen employees for the first time and increased activity among existing clients.”

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