The ISM Code was ratified and brought into effect to improve the safety of shipping. With this was ushered in new era for the maritime industry. The ISM code was launched with the intent of getting companies to self-regulate and proactively mange risks. Companies that have embraced the ISM Code and not solely viewed it as a paperwork burden have reaped the benefits of the ISM code. Companies with ISM certification that have a well implemented system are able to proactively manage risks and thus able to save costs from saving the costs on dealing with non-conformities.
To gain ISM certification an organization must demonstrate that they have met the intent of the code and inherent in this is meeting the following functional requirements of the ISM code:

• A Safety and Environmental Protection Policy – To attain ISM Certification in the form of a Document of Compliance or Safety Management Certificate for the vessel the company must demonstrate that a policy is in place that shows how the company will meet the safety objectives of the code. It must be implemented at both shore and vessel.
• Instructions and procedures to ensure safe operation of ships and protection of the environment in compliance with relevant international and flag State legislation – These are essentially addressed by implemented SMS documentation meeting the requirements of clause 7 of the ISM code.
• Defined levels of authority and lines of communication between, and amongst, shore and shipboard personnel – The key words of between and amongst in this clause should not be missed. For the system to go beyond ISM certification the processes must work interactively to achieve the goals of the company and personnel must be clear on the expectations of them.
• Procedures for reporting accidents and non-conformities with the provisions of this Code – Identifying and addressing non-conformities plays a crucial role in the success of the system. With effective corrective action companies are able to ensure that the non-conformity does not occur again. This requirement is further amplified in clause 9 of the code.
• Procedures to prepare for and respond to emergency situations – ISM certification includes being able to demonstrate that a company can respond to emergencies at any time. To ensure this a designated person ashore is appointed who is available 24 x 7.
• Procedures for internal audits and management reviews – Internal audits and reviews to assess the effectiveness of the system must be conducted. Apart from the internal audits done by the company the Flag Administration conduct ISM certification audits prior issue of the interim SMC/ DOC as also prior the first full term certificate. Thereafter verifications are conducted at periodic intervals.
To learn more about how to implement and assess the effectiveness of implementation through audit enroll for QMII’s ISM Auditor class.

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