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Safety management systems

A safety management system (also referred to as an SMS) is a systematic approach to managing safety.

A safety management system details all the policies, practices, and procedures that are to be followed to ensure safe operation of the people and the vessel.

Who needs a safety management system?

All domestic commercial vessels are required to have a safety management system. This allows you to demonstrate and document how your vessel meets the mandatory general safety duties.

Your vessel’s safety management system should be based on a risk assessment of your operations. It should describe how safety, maintenance and operation is managed on your vessel.

A safety management system should describe how a vessel is operated safely and how risks are controlled. It should include the following key information:

  • the vessel, what it does, and where it operates
  • how risks are managed
  • how the vessel and its equipment are maintained
  • what happens if there is an emergency on a vessel, for example, a fire or a person overboard
  • the number and competence of crew required to ensure safe operations at all times
  • how crew are trained and drills conducted
  • the person responsible for the safety management system including their contact details.

What are the requirements for my vessel?

The safety management system requirements for Class 1 to 4 vessels are contained in marine order 504 and in particular, schedules 1 and 2. A safety management system can either be compliant to marine order 504 or ISM Code part A (Class 1, 2 and 3 vessels only).

To confirm that you have a safety management system in place we may ask the following questions:

  1. Is there a documented safety management system in place, based on an up-to-date risk assessment?
  2. Is the vessel’s logbook maintained?
  3. Is the regular programmed inspection and maintenance system up to date?
  4. Are crew training and inductions completed in association with the documented  safety management system emergency plans?
  5. Are the passenger manifest, crew documents, and hirer/participant records maintained?
  6. Are the number and competence of crew required appropriate to maintain safety during all vessel operations? (for example navigate, berth, unberth, load, unload, emergency, etc)

The owner, operator, master, and crew of each vessel should all be involved in carrying out the risk assessment and in developing, reviewing and updating the safety management system.

Resources to help you develop a safety management system

A safety management system is not just a document—it must be put into practice and be effective.

We provide tools and resources to help you develop and assess the health of your safety management system.

These guides can assist you in developing and maintaining your safety management system:

How can I assess my safety management system?

You can use the following safety management system tools to assess the health of your safety management system. There are two different safety management system tools available. Choose the one appropriate to your vessel:

You may also contact us to help you review and assess your safety management system, or to get information about meeting your general safety duties. We may conduct periodic reviews of your safety management system and operations.

Related information

Last updated: 

Monday 3 September 2018