The International Safety Management Code (ISM) -Summary.

The Following is a Bullet-Point Summary of the ISM Code


A summary of the ISM Code is as follows:

There are two key functions of the ISM Code:

·         Safe Operations

·         Pollution Prevention

Requirements to the ISM Code
·         Safety Objectives

·          Develop, implement and maintain a safety management system

·         Create a culture of safety

Mandatory Application

·         Management Objectives

·         Compliance with rules and regulations

·         Effective implementation

Enforcement, including verification of complicity of ISM Guidelines

·         Ensure:

o   Encouragement and support

o   The various Codes are taken into account

Verification and Certification Responsibilities:
Create Policies
Policies are to be Ship Specific. They are to be reflected in Manuals, Procedures and Instructions.

Ability to meet general safety management Objectives (Section 1.2.2. of the ISM Code)

·         Provide for safe practices in ship operations and a safe working environment

·         Assess all identified risks to ship personnel and the environment, and establish the appropriate safeguards.

·         Continuously improve safety management skills of personnel aboard ships, including preparing for emergencies related both to safety and environmental protection

Ability to meet specific requirements of safety and pollution prevention. The SMS should ensure:

·         Compliance with mandatory rules and regulations

·         Applicable codes, guidelines and standards recommended by the Organization, Administration, Classification Societies and Maritime Industry organizations are taken into account

These verifications should support the company in achieving all of these objectives

Certification and Verification Process.
Document Compliance
·         Interim Verification (see Page 44 of the ISM Code)

·         Initial Verification (see page 45 of the ISM Code)

·         Annual or Intermediate Verification (see page 46 of the ISM Code)

·         Renewal Verification (see page 46 of the ISM Code)

·         Additional Verification (see page 47 of the ISM Code)

Safety Management Audit Procedures.
·         Requests are to be submitted to the Administration.

·         The Safety Management Manuel is to be reviewed by the Administration to determine the adequacy of the SMS in terms of meeting the requirements of the ISM.

Operational Implementation of the ISM Code by Companies.
Development of the SMS
The basic principle of the ISM Code is Self-Regulation and therefore the key elements are:

·         Internal verification

·         review

To comply with the code, the Company should

1.       Designate a person/s’ with direct access to the highest level of management who should monitor the safe operation and procedures of each ship (see Section 4 of the ISM Code)

2.       Ensure that adequate resources and shore-based support are provided.

3.       Define and document the master’s responsibility with regard to reviewing the SMS and reporting its deficiencies to shore based management. (Section 5.1.)

4.       Establish procedures for reporting of Non-Conformities, accidents and hazardous occurrences.  (Section 9.1)

5.       Periodically evaluate the effectiveness of, and when needed, review of, the Safety Management System. (Section 12.2.)

6.       Perform Internal Audits to verify whether Safety Management activities comply with the SMS regulations.

The Designated Person
The Key roles of the Designated Person are:

·         A person whose influence and responsibilities should significantly affect the development and implementation of a safety culture within the company.

·         The Designated Person should verify and monitor all safety and pollution prevention activities on board.

·         Monitoring should include:

1.       Communication and implementation on the Safety and Environmental Policy

2.       Evaluation and review of effectiveness of the Safety Management System

3.       Reporting and analysis of non-conformities, accidents and hazardous occurrences

4.       Organizing and monitoring of internal audits, including verification of independence and training of internal audits.

5.       Appropriate revisions of the SMS

6.       Ensuring adequate resources (see section 4.3. pg. 60)
Safety Management System Review
·         The Company should review the Safety Management System periodically and evaluate its effectiveness.

·         The Master must review the Safety Management System periodically and report deficiencies to shore-based management.

·         The Company should implement measures to improve effectiveness:

o   Performed periodically as defined by the Company, and when needed.

·         When deficiencies are found, provide appropriate corrective action, taking into account the Companies objectives

·         The results of such audits are to be presented to all parties in a formal manner.

Reporting and Analyzing of Non- Conformities, Observations, Accidents and Hazardous Occurrences.
·         The Safety Management System should contain appropriate reporting to the responsible person for/of the non-conformities, observations, accidents and hazardous occurrences.

·         A system must be established to record, investigate, evaluate, review, analyze and report, and to take appropriate action.

Results will be either:

1.       The appropriate corrective action to be taken

2.       Amendments to existing procedures and instructions

3.       Development of new procedures and instructions

·         Follow up should be properly monitored, including closing out of Non-Conformities, etc.

·         Receipt of reports should be acknowledged to those who raised the issue. Include the report status and the decisions made.


Internal Audits.
Both the Shore-based and Ship-based audits should not exceed intervals of twelve months to ensure full SMS compliance. In absolute worst case, audits, may not be exceeded by more than another three months.

Procedures for Verification of Internal Audits Contain:
1.       Responsibilities

2.       Competence and selection of auditors

3.       Audit scheduling

4.       Preparing and planning the audit

5.       Executing the audit

6.       Audit report

7.       Corrective action and follow-up

Qualifications and Experience:

The Company and ship must have qualified and experienced people working on the SMS.

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