The Safety Management System (SMS) is a crucial component of the International Safety Management (ISM) code and is implemented by shipping companies to ensure the safety of their ships and the marine environment. The SMS is an organized system that outlines the policies, practices, and procedures that must be followed to ensure the safe operation of ships at sea.
All commercial vessels are required to establish safe ship management procedures, and the SMS is a key part of the ISM code that helps ensure compliance with mandatory safety rules and regulations. The SMS includes guidelines, codes, and standards recommended by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), classification societies, and other relevant maritime organizations.
By implementing an effective SMS, shipping companies can ensure that their ships are operated in a safe and responsible manner, minimizing the risk of accidents or incidents that could harm the crew, passengers, or the marine environment. Overall, the SMS is a critical tool for ensuring the safe and sustainable operation of ships at sea.
The safety management system (SMS) is a comprehensive set of policies, practices, and procedures that are designed to ensure the safe and responsible operation of ships at sea. The SMS includes several important functional requirements, such as:
- Procedures and guidelines for responding to emergency situations
- A safety and environmental protection policy
- Procedures and guidelines for reporting accidents and non-conformities
- Clear lines of communication and authority among ship crew members and between shore and shipboard personnel
- Procedures and guidelines to ensure compliance with relevant international and flag state legislation for safe ship operations and protection of the marine environment
- Procedures for conducting internal audits and management reviews
- Vessel details, including operational procedures, emergency equipment, and crew qualifications
In essence, the SMS outlines how a vessel should operate on a daily basis, including procedures for emergency situations, training and drills, measures for safe operations, and the roles and responsibilities of crew members and designated personnel.
While the owner of the vessel or a designated person is primarily responsible for the development and implementation of the SMS, the ship’s master and crew members are the best source of information and expertise on the vessel’s operations and are typically involved in the development and maintenance of the SMS. The SMS is a critical component of ensuring the safety and sustainability of ship operations and the protection of the marine environment.
A well-structured SMS is divided into various sections, each covering a specific aspect of ship safety and management. The general sections that are included in an SMS are:
- General: This section outlines the purpose, scope, and applicability of the SMS.
- Safety and environmental policy: This section defines the company’s commitment to safety and environmental protection, and lays out the general principles that guide the SMS.
- Designated person (DP): This section identifies the individual within the company who is responsible for ensuring that the SMS is properly implemented and maintained.
- Resources and personnel: This section describes the resources and personnel needed to implement the SMS effectively.
- Master’s responsibilities and authority: This section outlines the responsibilities and authority of the ship’s master in implementing and maintaining the SMS.
- Company’s responsibility and authority: This section defines the responsibilities and authority of the company in implementing and maintaining the SMS.
- Operational procedures: This section details the procedures and guidelines for the safe operation of the vessel.
- Emergency procedures: This section outlines the procedures to be followed in the event of an emergency or crisis.
- Reporting of accidents: This section describes the procedures for reporting accidents, incidents, and non-conformities.
- Maintenance and records: This section outlines the procedures for maintaining the vessel and keeping records related to safety and environmental management.
- Documentation: This section details the documentation required to support the implementation and maintenance of the SMS.
- Review and evaluation: This section outlines the procedures for reviewing and evaluating the SMS to ensure that it remains effective and relevant.
These sections provide a comprehensive framework for the implementation and maintenance of the SMS, and they are tailored to the specific needs of the vessel and its operations.