The Federation of Trade Unions of Maritime Transport Workers has sent to the Secretariat of the Russian Tripartite Commission for the Regulation of Social and Labor Relations its comments and suggestions to the draft order of the Ministry of Labor of the Russian Federation «On approval of the Regulations on the specifics of the investigation of industrial accidents in certain industries and organizations, forms of documents and classifiers necessary for the investigation of accidents». The revision of the Regulation is dictated by the introduction of amendments to Section X of the Labor Code (Labor Protection), which will enter into force on March 1, 2022.
According to Evgeniy Khizhnyak, Chief technical labor inspector of the Seafarers Union of Russia, a member organization of the FTUMTW, today the procedure for investigating and accounting for accidents that occurred to seafarers during their work on board the ship is set out in articles 227, 231 of the Labor Code of the Russian Federation and sub-paragraphs 3 (g), 9, 15 (b) of Appendix No. 2 of the Resolution of the Ministry of Labor of the Russian Federation No. 73 of October 24, 2002 «Regulations on the specifics of investigating accidents at work in certain industries and organizations», respectively. He notes that inaccurate wording and unjustified brevity give the possibility of incorrect interpretation of the procedure for investigating of industrial injuries of the crewmembers. As a result, in his opinion, the investigation is conducted biased and, most importantly, not in favor of the injured seafarer.
Thus, among the fundamental proposals of the FTUMTW is to consider an accident at work and conduct an investigation if the incident occurred while the seafarer was on board the ship, including during his free time from watch and work, outside the ship when performing orders from the captain or shipowner, as well as on shore during the rest period while the ship is moored in port.
The main argument in favor of the amendments is that any crewmember during the period of the employment contract, in his free time from watch and work, continues to be at the workplace, that is, on the ship, and is always ready to perform his duties.
As an example, Evgeniy Khizhnyak told a real story when in 2017, a 45-year-old captain died while sleeping on board the ship, in his cabin. After the investigation, the members of the shipowner's commission recognized his death as an accident related to work. But the representative of the Social Insurance Fund, who was part of the commission, decided otherwise and wrote in conclusion that «the accident is not related to work, since the captain did not perform his duties during the rest. » «The official took advantage of the legislative vacuum in the regulations. However, it is obvious to us that the captain is always at work from the moment he takes command of the ship until he descends the ladder to the shore after hand over»,- says Evgeniy Khizhnyak.
At one time, several court sessions were held in this case, which recognized that the fatal accident was still connected with the work.
«Our comments and suggestions on finalizing the «Regulations on the specifics of the investigation of industrial accidents in certain industries and organizations» are aimed at avoiding an ambiguous interpretation of the document, as well as at fully protecting the interests of Russian seafarers who are part of the crews of ships under the flag of the Russian Federation during the entire period of their continuous work, regardless of whether they are on board the ship or in the city on shore at the time of injury», - said Evgeniy Khizhnyak, chief technical labor inspector of the Seafarers Union of Russia.
Photo from RIA Novosti/Vitaliy Nevar