ICS Launches New ISM Guidelines


Published Dec 2, 2019 5:01 PM by The Maritime Executive

The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) has launched a 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.

An expert ICS panel drawn from shipowners and shipmanagers across a variety of sectors, and with considerable experience of working with ISM, helped create the new guidelines which look forward to the future, balancing the need to implement Safety Management Systems (SMS) that further improve safety with helping crews to do their jobs efficiently.

Mark Rawson, ICS Expert Group Lead, says: “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.”

The new fifth edition of the Guidelines 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.  

New Polar Operating Guidelines

In November, the ICS and the Oil Companies International Marine Forum (OCIMF) jointly released guidelines to support shipping companies intending to operate in polar waters develop a Polar Water Operational Manual (PWOM) so their ships can be issued with a Polar Ship Certificate. 

Appendix II of the IMO Polar Code provides a model PWOM, but ICS and OCIMF have recognized that additional guidance is necessary to help shipping companies to develop a quality PWOM that is truly fit for purpose. 

Guidelines for the Development of a Polar Water Operational Manual was prepared by expert contributors with in-depth experience of operating ships in polar waters, as well as knowledge of the challenges faced by seafarers on board. Topics addressed include: identifying hazards; understanding operational limitations; updating procedures; upgrading equipment and systems; understanding relevant legislation and ensuring that the results of assessments are fully addressed in the PWOM.