The International Safety Management (ISM) Code




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The International Safety
Management (ISM) Code for the safe operation of ships and for pollution
prevention and its application in the Marine Environment

code sets an international standard for the safe management and operation of
ships and requires companies to document and implement clear procedures,
standards and instructions for safety management ashore and afloat.
The ISM code does not replace
the requirement for compliance with existing regulations.
The purpose of the code is to
provide an international standard for the safe management and operation of
ships and for prevention of pollution
The objectives of the code are
to ensure safety at sea, prevention of human injury or loss of life, and
avoidance of damage to the environment.
The Code will be introduced on
a mandatory basis in three stages depending on the type of vessel but
regardless on date of construction.
– Ro-Ro Passenger vessels will require to comply by 1 January
1996, Ro-Ro ferries from 1 July 1996
– The new chapter IX to SOLAS 1974, Management for the Safe
Operation of Ships requires compliance of Passenger Vessels and high speed
Passenger Craft over 500 GRT by 1 July 1998. Oil Tankers, Cargo high speed
craft, Chemical Tankers, Gas Carriers and Bulk Carriers to comply by 1 July
1998. Other Cargo ships and mobile Offshore drilling rigs of over 500 GRT to
comply by 1 July 2002
The MSA will be responsible for
the system audit, issue and renewal of ISM Convention Certificates and the periodic
verification. The use of independent organisations to guide and assist in the
setting up of the SMS is encouraged but the choice such consultants is a
company decision.


application of the code will lead to the issue of two certificates

Document Of Compliance (DOC)

will be issued to the company following a
successful audit of the shore side aspects of the Safety Management System
evidence required that the system as been in
operation on at least one type of ship in the companies fleet for a period of
three months.
Specific to ship types at time of audit
valid for 5 years
subject to annual verification ( within 3
months of anniversary date)

The Safety
Management Certificate (SMC)

·  issued to each ship
following audit
·  evidence that SMS has been
in operation for 3 months prior to audit
·  valid DOC required
·  valid for 5 years
·  subject to one
verification between the second an third anniversaries with a proviso for more
frequent audits if necessary. This is more likely in the early days of ISM Code
-A 12mth valid DOC may be issued to a newly formed company or a
company acquiring a new type of vessel as long as they have a SMS meeting the
minimum requirements of the ISM code and can demonstrate plan for full
– A 6 mth valid SMC may be
issued to a new building or when a company takes of the responsibilities for
the running of a vessel.

Safety Management System

Safety Management objectives of the company.
provide for safe working
practices and a safe working environment
establish safeguards against
possible risks
continuously improve safety
management skills of personnel ashore and aboard ships,
Safety Management system (SMS) meeting the requirements of the ISM code
requires a company to document its management procedures and record its actions
to ensure that conditions, activities and tasks that affect safety and the
environment are properly planned, organised, executed and checked. A SMS is
developed and implemented by people and clearly defines responsibilities,
authorities and lines of communication. A SMS allows a company to measure its
performance against set criteria hence identifying areas that can be improved.
The increase in Safety Management skills improves morale and can lead to a
reduction in costs due to an increase in efficiency and a reduction in claims
The safety management system should ensure;
compliance with mandatory rules
and regulations
applicable codes and guidelines
both statutory and organisational are taken into account.
Promulgation and understanding of
company and statutory regulations and guidelines. (It is the task of a visiting
surveyor to test the general knowledge of company and statutory regulations and
The functional requirements for a safety management system;
a safety and environmental policy
instructions and procedures to
ensure that safe operation of the vessel in compliance with relevant
international and flag state legislation
defined levels of authority and
communication between shore and ship personnel
procedures for reporting
accidents and non-conformities with the code
procedures for responding to
emergency situations (drills etc)
procedures for internal audits
and management reviews
A system is in place for the on
board generation of plans and instructions for key shipboard operations. These
tasks may be divided into two categories
Special operations-those where errors only become apparent after a hazardous
situation or accident has occurred. E.g. ensuring water tight integrity,
navigational safety(chart corrections, passage planning), maintenance
operations, bunker operations
Critical shipboard operations- where an error will immediately cause an
accident or a situation that could threaten personnel, environment or vessel.
e.g. navigation in confined waters, operation in heavy weather, bunker or oil
transfers, cargo operations on tankers. .
Safety and environmental protection policy
The company should establish a
safety and environmental protection policy which describes how objectives
listed above will be achieved.
The company should ensure that
the policy is implemented and maintained at all levels of the organisation both
ship based as well as shore based.
Company responsibilities and authority
There must be disclosure from the
owner to the administration as to who is responsible for the operation of the
ship. The company should define and document responsibility, authority and
interrelation of all personnel who manage, perform and verify work relating to
and affecting safety and pollution prevention
The company must ensure there are
adequate resources and shore based support for the designated person or persons
to carry out their function.
Designated Person(s)
A person or persons who has direct
access to the highest levels of management providing a link between the company
and those on board.
The responsibility and authority
of the designated person is to provide for the safe operation of the vessels.
He should monitor the safety and pollution prevention aspects of the operation
of each vessel and ensure their are adequate shore side resources and support
Master’s responsibility and authority
The roles and responsibilities of
the Master should be clearly defined by the company with regard to the
implementation of the companies policies with respect to SMS and methods for
review and reporting deficiencies to the shore based management.
The company should ensure that
the SMS operating onboard the vessel contains a clear statement emphasising the
masters authority. The company should make it clear that the Master has the
overall responsibility for decision making and has overriding authority with
the option of adequate shore back up.
Resources and Personnel
The company should ensure that
the Master is suitably qualified and fully conversant with the SMS. They should
also ensure that the ship is correctly manned.
The company should ensure that
there is adequate familiarisation with safety and protection of the environment
for new personnel. They should ensure that the personnel has an adequate
understanding of the relevant rules, regulations, guidelines and codes.
Training is to be provided where
necessary. Relevant information for the SMS should be promulgated and be
written in an easy to understand method.
Development of plans for ship board operations
The company should establish
procedures for the generation of shipboard plans and instructions with regard
to the prevention of pollution and that these should be generated by qualified
Emergency Preparedness
The company should establish
procedures for the response actions to potential emergency situations.
Programmes for drill should be established and measures taken to ensure that
the company’s organisation can respond to hazards and accidents.
Reports and analysis of non-conformities, accidents and hazardous
The company should ensure there
is a procedure for the reporting and analysis of accidents, hazardous
occurrences and non-conformities, and for the corrective action.
Maintenance of the ship and equipment
The company is to ensure that the
vessel is properly maintained. Procedures within the SMS should be in place to
identify, record and plan for repair defects. A system of preventive
maintenance should be in operation.
Regular inspections integrated
with the ships operational maintenance routine should take place to ensure that
the vessel is in compliance with relevant regulations.
The company should establish and
maintain procedures for the control of all documentation relevant to the SMS.
This should include;
documents are available at all relevant locations
to documents are reviewed and approved to authorised personnel
documents are promptly removed
All documents, carried in a
company approved relevant form, should be present on board
Company verification, review and evaluation.
The company should carry out
periodic audits to verify that safety and pollution prevention’s are complying
with SMS. The audits and corrective actions should be carried out as per laid
down procedures.
Personnel carrying out the audits
should be independent of the areas that they are carrying out the audit unless
size of the company is such that this is impractical.
Deficiencies or defects found
should be brought to the attention of the personnel in that section and the
management team so effective corrective action can be carried out
Certification, verification and control
The following documentation is
issued by which ever administration, complying with ISM, is relevant to the
shipping company.
A DOC is issued to all company’s
who can demonstrate that they have complied with the code should be held.
A copy of the DOC should be held
on board to allow the Master to produce it to the relevant authorities is
An SMC is issue to the ship
following verification that the ship and company comply with the requirements
of SMS.
Future verification that
compliance with SMS should be carried out by the administration.
Requirements on board ship
Proof that the vessel is being
maintained in a satisfactory condition at all times, and not only at the time
of surveys-objective evidence in the form of no overdue surveys, no overdue
recommendations from port or flag state inspections and that planned
maintenance is being carried out and records kept.
Applicable codes and guidelines
are being taken into consideration when operating the vessel. Vessels staff
must be able to demonstrate that operations are carried out in a controlled
manner utilising information contained in these codes, guidelines and
That emergency situations have
been identified and drills are conducted to ensure the vessel and company are
ready to respond to emergency situations.
The master is expected to be
fully conversant with Company safety management system. Officers and crew would
be expected to be familiar with the parts of the system relevant to their
safety responsibilities as well as a thorough understanding of their
operational responsibilities- auditors will ensure compliance.
Examples of the type of documentation the
auditor will wish to see to verify compliance with the ISM are as follows;
Log books
Safety and management meeting minutes and
follow up actions
Medical log
Company circular letters
Planned maintenance records
Records of verification
Records of masters review of the system
Records of internal audits and follow up
Records of chart corrections
Class quarterly listings
Records of passage planning
Oil record books
Garbage logs
Company manual and forms

prevention and OPA 90

into the ISM code are the requirements to meet OPA90 to wit a Federal Response
Plan. Each company that trades in US coastal waters must have in place a
suitable response plan. They must have a designated person resident in the
United states ready to act as consultant.
There is an IMO regulations
which is equivalent to OPA90. A company must be in possession of a valid DOC to
trade, and it must be able to clearly demonstrate its ability to respond to
situations such as oil spillage.

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