Domestic safety management code changes

In 2016 the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) implemented changes to the Domestic Safety Management Code (DSMC) requirements, governing how Passenger Ship Safety Certificates are issued. Previously the Domestic Safety Management Certificate and Passenger Ship Safety Certificate were combined and valid for five years with annual verification, however, going forward this requirement has been altered.

What’s changed?

Firstly, the combined certificate is now being split into two:

  • Passenger Ship Safety Certificate – this certificate is valid for a maximum of 12 months.
  • Domestic Safety Management Certificate – this certificate is valid for a maximum of five years and will require an intermediate audit either at the second or third anniversary of the issue date.

An annual self-assessment and a periodic review of the company’s Safety Management System (SMS) will now be required as part of the condition to gaining a Domestic Safety Management Certificate.

What does the annual self-assessment involve?

The annual self-assessment is an audit of your SMS that is carried out by a company employee. To assist, the MCA provides guidance (MGN 536) in the form of an example DSMC checklist and a self-assessment report which you can use to conduct your self-assessment.

The self-assessments are designed to highlight any differences between what is required by rules/regulations and/or the company’s own set out standard.

The self-assessment can also be carried out by an accredited person who is external to the company but has experience in the operation of domestic passenger vessels and auditing.

What does the periodic review involve?

Unlike the self-assessment the periodic review is a critical review of the SMS over the last three years. This process is to include a review of audit reports, inspection reports, non-conformities, risk assessments, permit to work and accident, incident and near miss reports. This will highlight to the company any findings that may link to reoccurring trends and root causes and areas of concern allowing for improvement of the SMS in these areas.

What information should my SMS contain?

Your SMS should only contain information that is relevant to your operation, if the company SMS says you do it then you need to ensure it’s being done. Your SMS should be developed to meet the needs of your company.

The SMS should contain information on the following:

  • The objectives of your SMS.
  • A Health, Safety and Environmental Protection Policy.
  • Responsibilities and authority of employees.
  • Designated person responsibilities.
  • Personnel and training.
  • Procedures to ensure the safe operation of ships in compliance with the applicable regulations and rules.
  • On-board procedures.
  • Procedures for reporting accidents, incidents and near misses.
  • Procedures for responding to emergency situations.
  • Preparation for emergencies.
  • Maintenance of the ship and equipment.
If you require any further information or advice on DSMC changes please contact a member of the CTRL team.

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