Safe ship management systems
Saturday, 06 February 2010

Safe ship management systems: to address maritime accidents and minimise related costs to Pacific Island communities.

Economic development, trade and maritime transport are inextricably linked. Hence access to reliable, cost-effective and environmentally-sustainable shipping services has been identified as a major regional policy objective in enhancing intra-regional and international trade.

Maritime accidents and incidents cost the shipping industry and affected communities millions of dollars. Even though an accident may have happened a decade ago, some innocent communities still feel the repercussions today and continue to pay the bill. The following examples provide an indication of such costs to some affected communities. In 1999, the Cost of Civil Aviation Accidents and Incidents report revealed that every death from an aviation accident in Australia costs the society A$1.5m while each serious injury cost an estimated A$545,000 and each minor injury A$205,000. The Bureau of Transport Economics reported that in 1996, aviation accidents cost the Australian community A$112m while the maritime accident casualty cost in 1993 was A$316m.

Among a number of safety measures of major importance is the implementation and enforcement of the International Safety Management (ISM) Code, an instrument developed by the International Maritime Organization and included in the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974 (SOLAS 74), under Chapter IX and its derivatives for small crafts.

ISM Code provides an international standard for the safe management and operation of ships and for pollution prevention. It aims to ensure that adequate measures are adopted to guide safety at sea, prevent human injury, loss of life and property, and avoid damage to the environment. ISM emphasises on the essential ingredient of shipping management that every company should develop, implement and maintain a Safety Management System (SMS). But this does not mean that the code is trying to tell the company how to run their business. The onus to do so lies with the company.

Safety culture is of interest, not only to those directly involved in the day to day technical operation of ships, but to all senior decision-makers in shipping companies because the practice improves safety in shipping in addition to saving money and lives. Also worth noting is that because of ethical and social responsibilities, shipping companies may practise a safety culture out of sheer self interest.

The implementation and enforcement of the ISM Code and its derivative, safe ship management systems, for small crafts will address maritime accidents and cut unnecessary costs to the Pacific Island communities.

Last Updated ( Saturday, 06 February 2010 )
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