Seafaring is considered one of the most hazardous occupations. Aside from accidents, seafarers are also exposed to various diseases. This may be due to onboard work, change in climate conditions, working hours, personal health habits, etc. They are also prone to pandemic and epidemic diseases from visiting ports in different countries.
With this, it is important to take note of the guidelines that need to be met when claiming your medical benefits. It is an advantage to know this even during the early stages of your training in the Philippines for all things maritime-related. This is so you come prepared the moment you board your designated ship.
Know The Specific Guidelines
In order to be entitled to medical benefits under the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, one must have suffered work-related illness. This is defined as any sickness resulting in disability or death due to one of the occupational diseases listed under Section 32-A of the contract. The list also includes infectious diseases that are a result of the presence and activity of pathogenic microbial agents in the body. A seafarer may suffer from the following infectious diseases:
- Pulmonary Tuberculosis
- Conjunctivitis (Bacterial and Viral)
- Norwalk Virus
- Otitis Media
- Viral Encephalitis
The list also includes diseases that may result in repatriation.
Keep A Record of Your Conditions
It is not enough for a seafarer to have these conditions alone. They must also prove that:
- They suffered an illness
- They suffered this illness during the term of their employment contract
- They complied with the procedures prescribed under Section 20-B
- Their illness is one of the listed occupational diseases or is otherwise work-related
A seafarer suffering from any infections must still meet the following conditions before their disease may be compensable:
- The seafarer’s work must involve the risks described therein
- The disease was contracted as a result of the seafarer’s exposure to the described risks
- The disease was contracted within a period of exposure and under such factors necessary to contract it
- There was no notorious negligence on the part of the seafarer
It is important that a seafarer’s conditions are well-documented. Symptoms such as headaches, rashes, fever, coughs, etc. are taken note of to determine if there is causation between sickness and work. This would help in assessing if the condition is eligible for compensation. This would also help in determining possible risks onboard a ship and how these risks can be addressed in the future to prevent diseases from resurfacing as much as possible.
Aside from task-related courses, it is also important that an aspiring seafarer’s training in the Philippines involves knowing their rights and guidelines. Every worker deserves to have rights, but each one must be well-educated of these rights for their benefit and wellbeing.