The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) has launched a completely new edition of its Guidelines on the Application of the IMO International Safety Management (ISM) Code.

The ISM Code is a mandatory requirement for merchant ships, critical to continuous improvement of maritime safety and environmental performance.

The fifth edition of these ICS guidelines includes comprehensive advice on compliance with the ISM Code for anyone involved with developing, implementing and maintaining safety management systems (SMS), which are critical to successful and efficient ship operations.

Mark Rawson, ICS expert group lead said: “What emerged within ICS was a strong enthusiasm to make radical changes to the previous guidelines. The view from ship operators was that we should be looking at how we can simplify understanding of the ISM Code and the application of its requirements.”

Rawson explained that the purpose of ISM, when it was adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) more than 25 years ago, was to make it easier and safer for ships’ crews to carry out their work. “Today, this is something which is sometimes overlooked. The industry has changed so much since the 1990s and we are now in a very different and far more complex place.

“There is much more pressure from external stakeholders – including charterers and commercial interests, such as banks and underwriters – to use the SMS for their own purposes. We have therefore sought to provide greater clarity on what ICS believes is actually the key point of ISM Code compliance,” he said.

ICS recommends that a copy of the new guidelines is carried on every commercially trading ship and that a copy is held at every shipping company office.