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  • IMMARBE Guidelines for an effective safety management system for yachts not required to hold ISM Code Certification
  Introduction The purpose of this section is to provide guidance on how to develop and implement an effective safety management system for yachts under 500GT, where full certification to the International Safety Management Code is not a requirement.
  1. Generally Each operator should create a safe working environment, which should include the following:
  A health and safety protection policy. This must address the issues of health, safety and the environment as they affect the company and its staff, both ashore and afloat.  Such a policy might read along the following lines: “The policy of (name of Company/ Owner) is to conduct its activities taking full account of the health and safety of its employees and of all persons using or connected with the Company/ Owner. In implementing this policy, (name of Company/Owner) will ensure that the [yacht] is, at all times, properly maintained and operated by qualified personnel in full compliance with relevant legislation.  In particular the [Company/ Owner] will carry out an assessment of the risks to the health and safety of workers and others affected by [the operations], and will take the necessary measures to minimise the risks identified.”
  2. The owner/ operator is recommended to develop and implement an oil management plan to the same standard as the garbage management plan and to integrate it with the Health and Safety Protection Policy.  This is not required for yachts over 400GT, for which an IOPP certificate is required.
  3. The regulations and rules, not addressed by this Code, which apply to all yachts include, but are not limited to:

  • International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea;
  • Local Navigation Rules;
  • National health and safety regulations;
  • The Code of Safe Working Practices for Merchant Seamen, or equivalent;
  • All relevant national shipping or guidance notices.
  4. The company should draw up simple procedures to ensure that safe working practices are carried out in the operation of the yacht.  These may be in the form of checklists which can be followed by all personnel.
  For some yachts, it might be appropriate to have permanently exhibited checklists, e.g. in the wheelhouse for navigational items.  Alternatively, in a smaller yacht, the record could take any suitable form such as a diary as distinct from a specially printed logbook.  Whatever form the record takes, such entries should be accepted as evidence of compliance with the requirements for on board procedures.
  5. Lines of communication between personnel, ashore and afloat. Responsibility and authority of each employee should be clear. This may be best illustrated in a simple diagram, showing who reports to whom.
  6. Procedures for reporting accidents.
The requirement for reporting accidents should be well understood by all personnel and in so doing improve the safety culture practiced on board.
  7. Procedures for responding to emergency situations.
  There should be clearly stated procedures for responding to emergency situations. These may include but not be limited to:

  • fire
  • collision
  • grounding
  • violent act
  • main propulsion or steering failure
  • man overboard
  Checklists may be useful in this regard.
  8. Health and Safety Protection Policy.
  One or more competent persons should be delegated to take responsibility for health and safety, and that person/ persons should be clearly identified.  It is the responsibility of the owner/operator to ensure that the policy is complied with, and that the responsibilities are understood.
  9. The company/owner should develop a policy on prevention of alcohol and drug abuse.
  10. All personnel both ashore and afloat have a duty to take care of themselves and other persons who may be affected by their acts or omissions.
  11. It is essential that, in the event of an emergency, there is the ability to communicate with the emergency services via a shore base.  The shore base may be the company office ashore, the local Coastguard, Police or Fire Station, or another office as may be agreed between the yacht and the shore base.
  12. Responsibilities
  The Master must have authority at all times, to make decisions with regard to the safety of the yacht and the persons on board. To ensure that there is no ambiguity regarding the authority of the Master, there should be a simple written statement to this effect.
  13. Personnel and Training
  All personnel should receive training appropriate to the tasks they undertake.  It is the responsibility of the company/ owner to ensure that this training is given, and that the personnel have an understanding of the relevant regulations and rules.
  As a minimum, this means:

  • for the master, the relevant qualifications;
  • for the crew, relevant qualifications and any additional training appropriate to their designated duties.
  Prior to the first occasion of working on the yacht, each employee must receive appropriate familiarisation training and proper instruction in onboard procedures. This could include, but not necessarily be, limited to:

  • mooring and unmooring;
  • launching and recovery of survival craft;
  • evacuation from all areas of the yacht;
  • donning of lifejackets; and
  • use and handling of fire fighting equipment.
  In addition to the safety issues and the frequent need for training in the operation of equipment, special consideration must be taken of local, national and international regulations associated with these activities.
  14. On Board Procedures
  Simple procedures should be developed for the operation of the yacht.  These should include, but not be limited to:

  • testing of equipment, including steering gear, prior to commencing a passage;
  • navigation and handling of the yacht;
  • maintenance routines;
  • bunkering operations;
  • watertight/ weathertight integrity;
  • stability of the yacht;
  • conduct of passengers and crew while on board;
  • operation of helicopters, submersibles, tenders, RIBS, and other motor boats carrying passengers;
  • operation of water craft such as jet skis, sailing boats, windsurfers;
  • diving, paragliding, fishing.
  15. Preparation for Emergencies
  The potential emergencies likely to be encountered by the yacht should be considered.  Exercises should then be carried out in the handling of these emergencies and evacuation from the yacht.
  Where possible, all personnel should be involved in these exercises, both ashore and afloat.
  The roles and responsibilities of all personnel in an emergency situation should be defined.
  The exercises should be recorded.  The names of those who participated should also be recorded.
  16. Reporting of Accidents
  Yachts operating under this Code are required to report any accidents to the Administration and the company must therefore have a procedure in place.  Additionally, all accidents and near accidents should be recorded and reported to the operator/ owner, who should implement corrective action, with the aim of improving safety.
  17. Maintenance of the Yacht and Equipment
  Maintenance of the yacht and equipment is an essential ingredient of safety management.  The equipment should be checked and tested daily when in use, in addition to the tests referred to in the on board procedures section of the Code.
  There should be procedures for a more detailed inspection and maintenance programme of the yacht and equipment.
  The frequency of the inspections should be determined by the owner/ operator, but every event should be recorded.
  A checklist could be employed as an aide memoir for the inspection of equipment.
  18. Review

Every company/owner should undertake a review of the safety management system of all yachts at least once in every three years.


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