Maritime Safety Guide
Nearly all world industries rely heavily on maritime shipping. Former Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon once stated, “Maritime transport is the backbone of global trade and the global economy.” Maritime shipping is also considered one of the safest and most environmentally-friendly modes of goods transportation.
Due to the vastness of the oceans, safety has always been foundational to the shipping industry. The shipping industry was one of the first industries to implement comprehensive international safety standards set forth by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). This maritime safety guide condenses the many rules and regulations ensuring safety across marine waterways.
What is Maritime Safety?
Maritime safety is the collection of measures to protect life and property at sea. Specifically, the guidelines come from the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS). SOLAS provisions range from setting the frequency of ship inspections to implementing approved life-saving appliances.
Crewmember training and certifications also ensure that sailors follow best practices and protocols at sea. IMO generally oversees international shipping safety matters, but the organization is also responsible for preventing marine and atmospheric pollution.
Risks Faced by Maritime Workers
Maritime workers are exposed to many risks while on duty. According to the CDC, the marine transportation industry recorded 87 fatal injuries between 2011-2017, almost six times the rate of all U.S. workers. During the same period, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows 11,000 non-fatal maritime injuries.
The main risks faced by maritime workers include:
Life at sea is unpredictable and often dangerous. Maritime workers can have life-threatening accidents every day while at work. Poorly placed objects on the ship’s decks can cause obstruction or slip and fall injuries.
Respiratory diseases and cancer
Maritime workers are often exposed to fumes, asbestos, heavy metals, and solvents, leaving them vulnerable to respiratory diseases. Shipyard workers and welders are at high risk for cancer due to airborne hazardous materials in their workplaces. Long-term workers and Navy veterans also face an increased risk of mesothelioma from past asbestos exposure.
Fires and explosions
Fires and explosions can cripple a vessel, causing the loss of life, property, and goods. In the enclosed spaces of a ship, fire can spread rapidly. Fire prevention, detection, and extinction regulations seek to avoid total devastation, but accidents can still happen.
Exposure to extreme temperatures on a ship can cause fatigue, dehydration, high body temperature, and hypothermia.
Maritime Safety Rules and Standards
The STCW Standard of Training, certification, and watch-keeping regulates the level of competence crew members need to join merchant vessels. The STCW entails training and certification, adherence to standard hours of work and rest, medical requirements, and more. The convention is a must-read for all maritime personnel. Its maritime safety rules and standards include:
Maritime Safety Rules and Standards
International Safety Management Code
The regulations list safe management practices to ensure maritime safety and prevent pollution. It’s a foundational code of the SOLAS Convention, which regulates the safe management of shipping operations. It’s also an essential code for shipping owners, operators, companies, and maritime institutions.
Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS)
Life-Saving Appliance Code ( LSA)
Procedure For Port State Control
Fire Test Procedures
Cargo Security and Storage Code
International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargo Code and Supplement
Load Lines Convection
International Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue Manual (IAMSAR)
The Civil Aviation Organization and International Maritime Organization jointly publish a manual of mobile facility emergency search and rescue procedures. The manual should be on board all ships.