Alert! 22 - A need to address human element issues effectively


A need to address human element issues effectively

Regulation is required to ensure safer and secure shipping and cleaner oceans; and for the setting of common standards for ship and system design and build, for the education and training of the various stakeholders, and for operational procedures.

The seafarer also needs to be protected through regulation that can provide him/her with a safe and secure working environment, decent working and living conditions, fair terms of employment and a healthy lifestyle. 

Those who are involved in the development of international, regional and national maritime conventions and instruments related to the safety of life and property at sea and the protection of the marine environment, need to be sensitive to the human element – as do those who are responsible for ensuring the implementation of such conventions and instruments, particularly when translating them into local rules and regulations.

The IMO, in its Resolution A.947(23), defines the human element as ‘a complex multi-dimensional issue that affects maritime safety, security and marine environmental protection’ which involves ‘the entire spectrum of human activities performed by ships’ crews, shore-based management, regulatory bodies, recognized organizations, shipyards, legislators, and other relevant parties.' And, it urges all parties to cooperate to address human element issues effectively.

Three years ago, the IMO introduced their Checklist for considering Human Element issues by IMO bodies (IMO MSC-MEPC.7/Circ.1) for completion by all relevant IMO bodies before approving or adopting amendments to mandatory and non-mandatory IMO instruments; member governments were also encouraged to complete this checklist before submitting proposals for development or amendments to IMO instruments. 

Whether this checklist is being rigidly followed remains to be seen, but it is nevertheless a step in the right direction and ought to be the benchmark for addressing the human element in the development and implementation all international, regional and national maritime conventions and instruments, and for the development of company rules and regulations.

But, fundamental to this is the need for all international regulators, national legislators and administrations, shipowners and shipmanagers to have a thorough understanding of the many and varied human element issues that relate to the design and operation of ships and their systems.

To this end, the centrespread feature in this issue of Alert! offers some thoughts on the development of a knowledge and skills framework for this particular stakeholder group.


Staff Author