DEVELOPMENT OF THE ISM CODE

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A number of very significant accidents which took place during the late 1980’s, were manifestly trigger by human errors, with management faults also identified as imparting factors.

Lord Justice Sheen in his investigation into the loss of the Herald of Free Enterprise famously explained the management failures as “the disease of sloppiness”.

At its 16th Assembly in October 1989, IMO accepted resolution A.647(16), recommendations on Management for the Safe Operation of Ships & for Pollution Prevention.

The purpose of these recommendations was to provide those accountable for the operation of ships with the framework for the proper development, execution & assessment of safety & pollution prevention management in line with good practice.

The aim was to assure safety, to avert human injury or loss of life, & to avoid damage to the environment, in general, the marine environment, & to property. The recommendations were based on general principles & objectives so as to encourage evolution of sound management & working practices within the industry as a whole.

The recommendations acknowledged the significance of the existing international instruments as the most important means of averting maritime casualties & pollution of the sea & included sections on management & the significance of a safety & environmental policy.

After some experience in the use of the recommendations, in the year 1993 IMO accepted the International Management Code for the Safe Operation of Ships & for Pollution Prevention (the ISM Code) & the Code became obligatory in the year 1998.