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Ship Regulations For Your Fleet

Posted on 15th November 2021

See what regulations your fleet must adhere to in order to ensure optimum ship safety, crew welfare, and performance.

Working at sea is a complex and unpredictable undertaking. Mired with the potential for danger given the multifaceted nature of shipping and the influence of external factors such as weather, the need for sound safety structures can’t be overemphasised.

The strict regulations all ships must adhere to (outlined in The Merchant Shipping and Fishing Vessels Regulations 1997) make for hefty reading – but having a solid understanding of them is essential in order to maintain safety and security on board at all times when at sea. The rules all vessels are bound by have three main aims – to protect the condition of the boat, to prevent damage to the environment and to ensure the safety of crew members.

The regulations sea-going vessels must comply with are subject to revisions and updates from time to time to ensure they continue to reflect the current challenges and potential dangers vessels and their crews face at sea. Here we take a look at some of the key rules all fleets must comply with, including the details of what each entails and what you can do avoid potential penalties for non-compliance.

Regulation 4 – Persons on Whom Duties are Imposed

Sea-going vessels must often run on strict hierarchies, put in place to prevent miscommunications and misunderstandings resulting in potentially dangerous disorganisation. This regulation recognises the requirement for the individual in charge on board to impose the Regulations and ensure compliance, whilst placing full responsibility for breach upon them. The person in charge of the boat has a legal duty to follow safety regulations and ensure that all crew members do so, too. Liability for the consequences of non-compliance also fall on this individual, but also on their employer and any person tasked with safety-related undertakings, so an understanding of responsibilities on board is crucial.

Regulation 5 – General Duties

The General Duties section of legislation covers the broad health and safety consideration for all crew members and other persons interacting with your vessel. This extends to the proactive prevention of injury or incident and welfare considerations, such as suitable work schedules, health conditions of employees and emotional wellbeing. Under the health and safety umbrella of General Duties you’ll find risk assessments, proper maintenance of machinery and equipment and regular revision of working practices. This is perhaps the most lengthy and complex regulation – so it’s important to fully understand what’s required and ensure proper measures are put in place to comply.

Regulation 11 – Health Surveillance

Without a fit and healthy workforce a sea-going vessel simply cannot run properly – and potentially disastrous incidents can occur. Therefore ensuring the crew is in optimal health is an essential ongoing requirement. This regulation sets out the need for the vessel’s master or captain to regularly and thoroughly assess each employee’s capabilities and physical and mental fitness. Risk assessments should also be built into this process to ensure workers are not placed in uncomfortable or dangerous positions as a result of their day-to-day activities.

Regulation 12 – Capabilities and Training

Regulation 12 goes hand in hand with Regulation 11 – as well as ensuring workers are fit and well, it’s also necessary to regularly assess their knowledge and understanding of safety processes. Health and safety rules aren’t the sole concern of the captain and management, although the responsibility ultimately falls with them – the active participation of all on board is required to ensure proper implementation.

This regulation recognises this and highlights the need for frequent refreshment on safety processes on board, ensuring all crew members have specific knowledge of how to keep themselves and one another safe at all times and what actions to take should an incident occur.

Regulation 17 – Election of Safety Representatives and Safety Committees

Where vessels don’t have an existing contingency plan in place and prearranged hierarchy which sets out who is responsible for health and safety on the ship, a structure of safety representatives must be established. These safety reps are responsible for ensuring health and safety guidelines are fully complied with at all times – but they are also in place to listen to any concerns workers may have regarding safety and communicate or act upon this information accordingly.

Where this differs at sea compared with in other settings is the stipulation for a specific election and appointment procedure bound by certain rules. Under the Safety Representatives and Safety Committee Regulations 1977 safety reps must be voted in and backed by a committee. They must also be over the age of 18 and have at least two years’ consecutive service at sea, with further guidance set out to enable crews to re-elect and appoint new representatives when needed. These stipulations are in place to ensure only experienced personnel are selected take on this responsibility.

Making compliance concrete and watertight

It’s impossible to eliminate danger and the occurrence of unexpected incidents entirely when running operations of any kind at sea – but with careful consideration and the right tools at your disposal, it’s possible to mitigate and prevent potential issues whilst being prepared for everything life at sea can throw at you. Adhering to the Regulations is a legal requirement, so putting watertight precautionary measures in place is paramount.

At Martek, our principal aim is to ensure the protection of vessels and their crew and prevention of fatality or injury at sea. Using innovative state of the art technology, our versatile equipment is designed to upgrade safety systems with simplicity and ease for complete peace of mind and regulatory compliance. We specialise in tailored solutions for sea-going vessels – speak to us today to learn more about safety support and compliance.