Focus

Focus Archive

Health & Safety On-board Ships

July 1997
Sheila Pantry, OBE

Wherever the workplace, good standards of health and safety should prevail, and none more so than on board a ship or vessel. A ship, which constitutes a workplace involving a wide range of tasks which are often undertaken in geographical isolation will require special attention.

Because of this isolation it is necessary to ensure that all persons receiving professional maritime training who intend to work on board ships, should be given basic training in medical and emergency measures which should be taken immediately in the event of an accident or serious medical emergency.

The International Labour Office have long campaigned to improve working conditions of seafarers. In 1994, the ILO published Maritime Labour Conventions and Recommendations which contains 22 Recommendations dealing with conditions of employment of seafarers. It also gives the text of four ILO Conventions which apply to all workers including seafarers and include safety, health and welfare, prevention of accidents, health protection and medical care.

The European Commission's concern resulted in the Council Directive 92/29/EEC on the minimum safety and health requirements for improved medical treatment on board vessels.

This directive covers the following:

The Directive also instructs each European Member State to take the necessary measures to ensure that:

The Directive lays down requirements on:

Inspections of the medical supplies stored on life-rafts shall be carried out in the course of those life-rafts' annual maintenance, but may exceptionally be postponed for up to five months.

In addition to the above, training and information will be necessary to cover the wide range of tasks being carried out. The various pieces of legislation, guidance and advice on e.g. manual handling (see also , electricity safety, use of display screen equipment, and personal protective equipment will be needed. Likewise attention to details on good standards of housekeeping to keep walkways clear to prevent slips, trips and falls to personnel. (For fuller details see October 1996 Focus on Slips, Trips and Falls). The effects of shift working is well documented and much can be learned from the results of research. Ergonomics comes into most jobs and knowledge of the

To find further information on safety and health on board ships and other vessels see the various bibliographic databases - NIOSHTIC, CISDOC and HSELINE available on the OSH-ROM compact disc from SilverPlatter, and the full text information including legislation available on the OSH-CD also from SilverPlatter.

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Further information

Maritime Labour Conventions and Recommendations (ILO), Available in English and French from ILO Publications, International Labour Office, 1211 Geneve 22, Switzerland, 1994. vi, 194p.