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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

MSC 90 - update on plans for risk-based ship designs

The 90th session of IMOs Maritime Safety Committee (MSC 90) in London this week agreed to:

  • develop Guidelines for the approval of risk-based ship designs
  • the development of a safety-level approach (SLA), a methodology which may be used in developing alternative designs and procedures/measures to the IMO rule-making process
  • adopt the revised Guidelines for Formal Safety Assessment (FSA), a methodology to be used for the evaluation of new IMO regulations (for safety and for the protection of the marine environment) and for making a comparison between existing, and possibly improved, regulations.

Here follow a few details about each of these Guidelines and how the studies may work together:

Safety-level approach (SLA)
This is an application of risk-based concepts in order to determine the safety level of regulations. In order to have a common understanding of the future work of developing a framework of SLA, MSC 90 agreed to these definitions: Safety level is a measure of exposure to risk and SLA is the structured application of risk-based methodologies for the IMO rule-making process. SLA will therefore be the instrument to assess the safety level of regulations, as appropriate and as required.

Formal safety assessment (FSA) guidelines
The FSA methodology could be applied when proposing amendments to IMO instruments, as appropriate. It will be used to analyse the implications of such proposals or it can be used to identify priorities and areas of concern and to analyse the benefits and implications of proposed changes. It is not intended that FSA should be applied in all circumstances – its application would be particularly relevant to proposals which may have far-reaching implications in terms of either costs (to society or the maritime industry), or the legislative and administrative burdens which may result.

Guidelines for the approval of the risk-based ship designs
These will be the guidelines which will guide on one hand the proponents of rule changes or new rules and, on the other hand, will help IMO to consider, assess and eventually approve such new regulations and standards, including ship design standards.

Formal Safety Assessment on Oil Tankers
MSC 90 also agreed that the FSA Group of Experts could now proceed with an FSA study on crude oil tankers. It was agreed last November that the FSA Group of Experts should meet three days in advance of the next MSC session. The FSA Study on crude oil tankers will be an exercise on practical application of the revised FSA Guidelines as adopted at MSC 90, in particular the use of the environmental risk evaluation criteria agreed earlier by MEPC 62 (July 2011), and will include the relevant parts into the FSA Guidelines.

Members may recall we reported from MEPC 62 that the difficult part of setting the environmental risk evaluation criteria was to define the CATS criterion (for Cost to Avert a Tonne of Spilled oil). This was agreed based on a consolidated oil spill database, developed jointly by Germany, Japan, Greece and the US, which was based on IOPCF data, US data, and data provided by Norway. It was also agreed that the following volume-based total spill cost functions could be used in environmental FSA studies:


Contact: Dragos Rauta and Jonathan Holloway