ICS Looks to the Future with New ISM Guidelines

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In response to today's increasingly complex operating environment, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) has launched a completely new edition of its Guidelines on the Application of the IMO International Safety Management (ISM) Code, originally published in 1993 with over 50,000 copies sold worldwide

The ISM Code is a key mandatory requirement for merchant ships, critical to continuous improvement of maritime safety and environmental performance.
An expert ICS panel drawn from shipowners and shipmanagers across a variety of sectors, and with considerable experience of working with ISM, has created up to date guidelines which look forward to the future, balancing the need to implement Safety Management Systems (SMS) that further improve safety with helping the crew to do its job efficiently.

Mark Rawson, ICS Expert Group Lead says: "What emerged within ICS was a strong enthusiasm to make radical changes to the previous guidelines. The view from ship operators was that we should be looking at how we can simplify understanding of the ISM Code and the application of its requirements.

"The purpose of ISM, when it was adopted by IMO more than 25 years ago, was to make it easier and safer for ships' crews to carry out their work. Today, this is something which is sometimes overlooked. The industry has changed so much since the 1990s and we are now in a very different and far more complex place. There is much more pressure from external stakeholders – including charterers and commercial interests, such as banks and underwriters – to use the SMS for their own purposes. We have therefore sought to provide greater clarity on what ICS believes is actually the key point of ISM Code compliance."

Mr Rawson emphasised: 'The ISM Code is actually fairly simple in its approach and, with the right understanding, can be relatively easy to comply with. In a complex global business like shipping it's time to refocus the SMS on the fundamental objective of helping seafarers perform their vital work on board ships in a safe and environmentally sound manner."

The new fifth edition of Guidelines on the Application of the IMO International Safety Management (ISM) Code includes comprehensive advice on compliance with the Code for anyone involved with developing, implementing and maintaining the SMS, including Masters and Designated Persons Ashore (DPA).

The revised Guidelines are divided into three sections. The first outlines the significant stakeholders and objectives; the second explores the experience of companies with ISM Code implementation and the importance of risk assessment and commitment to best practice; and the third features new ideas on how to replicate success and use the ISM Code to deal with new technologies and complexities in the future.

The ICS Expert Group has focused on using simple English, for clarity and ease of use.

ICS recommends that a copy of the new Guidelines is carried on board every commercially trading ship and that a copy is held within every shipping company office.


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