MEPC 56 – Human Element

IMO's Human Element Working Group met this week (9-13 July 2007) during MEPC 56 in London. The Group, which meets annually, was tasked with addressing a number of issues. The first task was to update the Organization's strategy to address the human element. Based on a proposal from Liberia, the Group updated its action plan together with a time schedule. This plan contains various issues which the Group is working on, such as: fatigue, casualty reports, safety culture, ergonomics, near-miss information and communication, amongst others.


Further, the Group discussed and agreed on the following subjects:


Near-miss data in accident and incident investigations


After a proposal from the International Federation of Shipmasters Association (IFSMA) and Liberia regarding a reporting system for near-miss information, the Group agreed that there was a need to provide guidance to encourage companies and seafarers to document and record information on near-misses and hazardous situations. A draft document on this subject was reviewed by the Group, and it was decided that it should be further reviewed at its next meeting, which is expected to take place during the 84th session of the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC 84 - May 2008). IMO members and NGOs (such as INTERTANKO) are invited to submit comments on the proposal.


Guidelines for the operational implementation of the ISM Code for companies


The Group reviewed a proposed guide which aims to assist administrations and companies in implementing the ISM Code efficiently. It was recognised that to support and encourage the development of a safety culture the following elements needed to be considered:


A)     Internal Audits

B)     SMS review/Assessment by the Company and Master

C)     Reporting and analysing of non-conformities, accidents and hazardous occurrences

D)     Persons performing internal audits and internal system reviews


Accordingly, the group agreed to develop “Guidelines for the operational implementation of the ISM Code by companies” in an MSC-MEPC Circular. (The circular will be circulated in the INTERTANKO Weekly NEWS and published on the INTERTANKO website as soon it has been made available by the IMO.)


Qualifications for Designated Persons (DP)


Austria together with the majority of the EU states proposed to the Group that guidance should be developed on the role of the Designated Person (DP). The Group agreed with the proposal and consequently drafted guidance on the qualifications, training and experience necessary for undertaking the role of the DP under the ISM Code. The guidance, which is contained in an MSC-MEPC circular, recommends, i.a., that the DP should have a minimum of formal education as follows:


  1. Qualifications from a tertiary institution recognised by the Administration or by the recognised organisation, within a relevant field of management, engineering or physical science, OR


  1. Qualifications and seagoing experience as a certified ship officer pursuant to the STCW, OR


  1. Other formal education combined with not less than three years' practical senior level experience in ship management operations.


The guidelines will be made available in the Weekly NEWS and on the INTERTANKO website as soon as they are published by the IMO.


Industry Human Factors Task Group (HFTG)


The Human Factors Task Group (HFTG), which consists of INTERTANKO, SIGTTO, ICS and others, proposed to the Standards of Training and Watchkeeping (STW) Sub-Committee that they consider the five elements identified by the HFTG, namely “Understanding”, “Behaviour”, “Compliance”, “Risk management” and “Leadership”.


The Group was of the opinion that those elements not only covered seafarers, but also those dealing with ship operations ashore. Accordingly, the Group asked the HFTG to continue its work and to submit a proposal to prevent failure to follow cargo operation guidelines and procedures at both shipboard and ship management levels to the next session of the Group.


Contact: Fredrik Larsson