International Safety Management Code

The ISM Code provides an International standard for the safe management and operation of ships and for pollution prevention.

The purpose of ISM Code is:

  • To ensure Safety at Sea
  • To prevent human injury or loss of life
  • To avoid damage to the environment and to the ship.

SOLAS adopted the ISM Code in 1994 and incorporated it into chapter IX. By 1998 much of the commercial shipping community was required to be in compliance with the ISM code. By 2002 almost all of the international shipping community was required to comply with the ISM Code.

In order to comply with the ISM Code, each ship class must have a working Safety Management System (SMS). Each SMS consists of the following elements:

  • Commitment from top management
  • A Top Tier Policy Manual
  • A Procedures Manual that documents what is done on board the ship, during normal operations and in emergency situations
  • Procedures for conducting both internal and external audits to ensure the ship is doing what is documented in the Procedures Manual
  • A Designated Person Ashore to serve as the link between the ships and shore staff and to verify the SMS implementation
  • A system for identifying where actual practices do not meet those that are documented and for implementing associated corrective action
  • Regular management reviews

Another requirement of the ISM Code is for the ship to be maintained in conformity with the provisions of relevant rules and regulations and with any additional requirements which may be established by the Company.

Each ISM compliant ship is audited, first by the Company (internal audit) and then each 2.5 to 3 years by the Flag State Marine Administration to verify the fulfillment and effectiveness of their Safety Management System. Once SMS is verified and it is working and effectively implemented, the ship is issued with The Safety Management Certificate. Comments from the auditor and/or audit body and from the ship are incorporated into the SMS by headquarters.

The requirements of the ISM Code may be applied to all ships.

The ISM Code was created by the IMO and Ferriby Marine's Capt. Graham Botterill, Specialist Advisor to the House of Lords in the UK on ship safety, among others.

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