In 2012, the Costa Concordia ship was grounded in an accident that resulted in the deaths of 26 passengers and 4 crew members. In 2007, marine vessel Cosco Busan experienced an collision that released approximately 54,000 gallons of oil into San Francisco Bay.
The common grounds for these accidents were inadequate Safety Management Systems and failure to comply with the ISM code. As such, proper procedures must be in place to mitigate such incidents.
Vessel Safety Management Systems play a crucial role in risk management and environmental protection. This article covers how they can reduce potential risks and improve safety for maritime workers.
What is a Ship Safety Management System?
A ship Safety Management System is an organised system of operational procedures and mandatory safety rules which safeguard the vessel and the maritime environment. It ensures that ship owners and crew comply with international safety regulations and those established by relevant government authorities.
Safety Management Systems should document health and safety considerations, important policies, and emergency response procedures. It should also cover crew member training and proper vessel maintenance.
Safety management involves determining the root causes of all maritime incidents, near misses, and non-conformities, whether major or minor. From there, a company should take corrective and proactive actions to prevent any recurrences of accidents.
Is a Safety Management System Required Under ISM Code?
The International Safety Management Code is the standard for the safe management and operation of ships and for pollution prevention. Under the ISM code, a Safety Management System is a legal requirement for every ship, both private and commercial vessels.
The ISM code requires shipping companies to conduct internal and external audits for each vessel. The audits are to verify whether the Safety Management System of the ship complies with ISM requirements and that routines on board match the implemented procedures.
If all the necessary criteria are met, the vessel receives a safety management certificate which verifies that a proper system is in place to ensure safety.
What are the Common Features of a Safety Management System?
The majority of EMSA safety recommendations comprise ship-related procedures and human factors—45.5% and 21.6%, respectively. Safety Management Systems thus emphasise safe operations and practices as well as emergency procedures.
Here are 3 standard features of a vessel Safety Management System:
1. Implements safety standards and procedures on the worksite
A Safety Management System sets the standards for operations and communications on a worksite. Establishing guidelines for workplace safety culture can reduce the occurrence of preventable accidents. These can include supervision of tasks and skills training.
As part of a Safety Management System, SOL-X Control Of Work allows easy worker supervision with user, time, and location stamp verification. It ensures that supervisors can identify the RIGHT person, at the RIGHT time, in the RIGHT location.
Furthermore, with SOL-X Crew Protect, companies can set better safety standards by enabling workers to access health analytics such as their work/rest hours. With this data, they can proactively manage their workload and resources, providing preemptive intervention against worker fatigue.
2. Improves operation safety within maritime facilities
Safe operations reduce the risks of accidents to safeguard the vessel and each and every crew member. On an individual level, wearing protective clothing and personal protective equipment is necessary. There is also a need for safety equipment, proper anchoring of heavy loads, and procedures to ensure safe movement around the vessel.
On top of physical equipment, companies can explore digital solutions. SOL-X Control Of Work boosts existing Safety Management Systems by including an integrated mobile interface that streamlines Permits To Work. This feature zooms in on specific workers who are working in confined spaces, physically isolated, or engaging in hot work such as welding. It ensures workers are authorised for specific tasks in those potentially hazardous conditions.
3. Includes concrete emergency plans and procedures
A Safety Management System ensures crew members receive regular training through drills and exercises for emergencies. A ship should also have its safety and environmental policies displayed in an accessible location on board, where they can be easily seen and reviewed.
Familiarising themselves with emergency procedures enables crew members to respond effectively to potential incidents. A quick emergency response time can save lives in a crisis situation such as a fire, abandon ship, or man overboard.
With SOL-X Crew Protect, existing Safety Management Systems can now be enhanced with Broadcast Message alerts that enable the crew to communicate with workers on the ground in case of an emergency. This solution also equips workers with their own SmartWatch with a “Crew Assist” function which they can use to alert their supervisors if they are in any danger.
What is the Purpose of Safety Management Systems in Maritime Sectors?
There were a total of 2,637 marine casualties in 2021. Maritime workers face unpredictable, high-risk environments out at sea. The job also involves working with dangerous equipment and chemicals that could cause fatal injuries if improperly handled.
The safety and security of crew members are essential not just for individual well-being but also for the protection of the vessel and everyone on board. A Safety Management System focuses on tackling the root cause of maritime accidents, emphasising risk prevention rather than ‘cure.’
Here are 3 benefits of having a proper vessel Safety Management System:
1. Improves communication and efficiency
Safety Management Systems ensure information is disseminated efficiently to update workers on worksite procedures and conditions. Good workplace communications are essential to manage risks and facilitate collaboration between workers on board, regardless of location.
For instance, the ISM code requires every ship to have a designated person ashore (DPA). The DPA provides a direct link between the company and those on board to support safe operations on the vessel.
As part of a Safety Management System, SOL-X Control Of Work also takes the groundwork out of Permits To Work. With automated workflows and a portable interface to Work On The Go, it eliminates the need for manual paperwork, encouraging compliance and increasing work efficiency.
2. Saves costs
While implementing more safety procedures might involve more expenses, Safety Management Systems ultimately save costs for shipping companies by improving productivity and resource management. An organised system of operations ensures that trained workers uphold high standards of quality and safety.
By avoiding potential safety risks, companies also avoid incurring uninsured financial losses. In 2020, the costs of work injuries added up to $163.9 billion. This figure included wage and productivity loss, medical expenses, and administrative costs.
3. Predict dangers
On top of alerting dangers, Safety Management Systems can also predict possible risks. When out at sea for long periods of time, it is important to monitor if a worker is medically fit to work so as to prevent occupational diseases.
For instance, as part of a Safety Management System, the SOL-X SmartWatch tracks health vitals, including heat stress exposure, coronary stress, heart rates, and more. This data collected can help to predict which workers’ well-being is in potential danger.
Boost Your Vessel Safety Management with SOL-X Worker Safety Solution
With the hazardous nature of the industry, maritime companies must not leave the safety of their workers up to chance. Proper technology and software can get you up to speed on modern maritime safety standards.
As part of a Safety Management System, SOL-X solution can provide the resources to enhance maritime operations and procedures. Ensuring a vessel runs smoothly helps create a safer environment for everyone on board.