The international trade association for ship and crew managers, InterManager, has advocated for the safety of seafarers during lifeboat drills
According to InterManager, the loss of lives of seafarers during drills could have been prevented. Citing a legislative change made in 2009, the SOLAS regulation III/188.8.131.52 states that while lifeboats had to undergo an abandon ship drill every three months, its assigned operating crew were not required to be on board when launching the lifeboat.
Adding on to their statement, InterManager observes that most of the lifeboat fatalities happened due to problems with the hooks. Based on the 2009 circular by the International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) Maritime Safety Committee, crews do not have to be onboard the lifeboat unless the Master, within the authority conferred to him/her by paragraph 5.5 of the ISM Code, decides it is necessary and has considered all safety precautions and the crew’s safety.
More awareness needed for seafarers’ safety
According to InterManager’s Secretary-General Captain Kuba Szymanski, not many people and organisations are aware of this legislation that was amended 13 years ago nor is it commonly practiced, “This is an extremely important change which seems to have been missed by some ship operators and is still included in some Shipboard/Safety Management Systems. To prevent any further loss of life in this way, we are raising awareness of the fact that seafarers are not required to be in the lifeboat when launching during drills.”
InterManager had investigated and collated statistics of lifeboat drill casualties, and found that since 1981, about 419 casualties during the drills were reported. In terms of seafarers injured because of the drill, there were 346 serious and 116 minor ones reported.
Captain Szymanski also urged for Port State Control officers to understand and apply this regulation correctly for the consideration of seafarers’ wellbeing. In his words, “The maritime community must do all we can to ensure the safety of seafarers.” After all, seafarers do deserve a safe workplace as well.
Crewing Online Media Team
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