The ISM or International Safety Management 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.
Safety of Life at Sea SOLAS
The SOLAS Convention 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 onboard the ship
- Procedures for conducting both internal and external audits to ensure the ship is doing what is documented in the Procedures Manual
- A Designated Person to serve as the link between the ships and shore staff
- A system for identifying where actual practices do not meet those that are documented and for implementing associated corrective action
- Regular management reviews
- A Planned Maintenance System which is used as a tool maintaining the vessel according to the specified maintenance intervals.
Each ISM compliant ship is inspected regularly by a classification society such as the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) in order to check the effectiveness of their Safety Management System (SMS.) Once the classification society verifies the SMS is working and effectively implemented, the ship is issued a Safety Management Certificate. Comments from the classification society and from the ship are incorporated into the SMS by headquarters.