The impact of COVID-19 on maritime pilots: Evidence and lessons
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The COVID-19 pandemic led to port congestion and disruption to global logistics and supply chains. While previous research has examined the impact on port performance and economics, social issues, such as the impact on port personnel (including pilots), have been overlooked. In this context, this paper examines the challenges experienced by Chinese pilots during the pandemic through in-depth interviews with 28 pilots. It shows that the draconian pandemic control measures adopted in China, rather than the pandemic itself, impaired pilots’ physical and mental health, reduced their availability, and introduced new safety hazards, which curtailed both the port’s capacity and ability to provide efficient and safe pilotage and resulted in sub-standard services. The findings suggest that there is a serious issue regarding the absence of effective mechanisms for pilots to raise their health and safety concerns and how these might be addressed by port administrators and/or local authorities. Worker participation and involvement in occupational health and safety management was problematic. These findings have implications for pilot station management at both company and government administrative and legislative levels.
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