International Safety Code Compliance Date Nears

The purpose of the International Safety Management Code is to provide an international standard for the safe management and operation of ships. It requires ship operators to establish a documented management system with clear objectives that provide for the prevention of accidents involving ships and personnel, casualties and damage to the marine environment. The key elements of a successful safety management system are:

Policy and objectives. Senior management must define the company policy and objectives with respect to safety, protection of the environment and service. The intentions must be conveyed to personnel ashore and afloat, understood and implemented.

The individual. All personnel who play a role in the management system must:

  • Know their responsibility and authority;
  • Understand where they fit into the organization;
  • Know who they report to and for what;
  • Have the skills and knowledge to do their jobs; and
  • Have necessary resources.

Plans, procedures and instructions. The company must ensure that all situations, operations, activities and work tasks, both ashore an afloat which impact safety, environmental protection and service quality are planned, controlled and verified in accordance with legislative and company requirements.

Prevention of hazards. The company must ensure all activities which may adversely affect safety, the environment or services are identified and measures are taken to prevent the hazardous condition, control it or minimize its effects.

Management review. The company must periodically evaluate the efficiency, suitability and effectiveness of its safety management system.

To be in compliance, vessel operators must possess a Document of Compliance and the ship must also possess a Safety Management Certificate.

Last December 15, the U.S. Coast Guard began conducting ISM Code audits during boardings of vessels which are required to be in compliance on July 1. As of January 26 of this year, these vessels are now required to notify the cognizant officer in charge of marine inspections of their ISM Code certification status before entering a U.S. port.

All safety directors should work with a trained medical professional who can define their level of medical care and therefore develop the protocol to deliver the defined medical mission statement. Training and product selection are all dependent on the desired standard of care. For further information on the how, what, and why please contact our trained staff at 1-800-272-3008 or e-mail us at . Remember the acid test of any safety program is "if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it".


    On July 1, 1998, all passenger vessels, oil tankers, chemical tankers, gas carriers, bulk carriers and high speed craft of 500 gross tons or more on an international voyage must be in compliance with the International Safety Management (ISM) Code. It will be extended to other ships in 2002.

    The ISM Code was adopted as a recommendation by the International Maritime Organization in 1993, but. After several years of practical experience, was made mandatory in a 1994 amendment to the IMO’s International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS). The responsibility for verifying that the Code is implemented rests with the flag state, whose administration, or an organization recognized by its administration, is responsible for issuing a Document of Compliance to each company that meets the Code standards. In the United States, the U.S. Coast Guard is the agency assigned to compliance oversight.

    Approximately 70 percent of the merchant ships covered by the ISM Code are expected to comply by the July deadline, according to the IMO.