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Title 4: Health Protection, Medical Care, Welfare & Security Protection

4.1 – Medical care on board ship and ashore
Purpose: To protect the health of seafarers and ensure their prompt access to medical care on board ship and ashore.
  1. Each Member shall ensure that measures providing for health protection and medical care, including essential dental care, for seafarers working on board a ship that flies its flag are adopted which:                                                                                                                     (a) ensure the application to seafarers of any general provisions on occupational health protection and medical care relevant to their duties, as well as of special provisions specific to work on board ship;                                                                                                                (b) ensure that seafarers are given health protection and medical care as comparable as possible to that which is generally available to workers ashore, including prompt access to the necessary medicines, medical equipment and facilities for diagnosis and treatment and to medical information and expertise;                                                                                                                   (c) give seafarers the right to visit a qualified medical doctor or dentist without delay in ports of call, where practicable;              (d) ensure that, to the extent consistent with the Member’s national law and practice, medical care and health protection services while a seafarer is on board ship or landed in a foreign port are provided free of charge to seafarers; and                                 (e) are not limited to treatment of sick or injured seafarers but include measures of a preventive character such as health promotion and health education programmes.
  2. The competent authority shall adopt a standard medical report form for use by the ships’ masters and relevant onshore and on-board medical personnel. The form, when completed, and its contents shall be kept confidential and shall only be used to facilitate the treatment of seafarers.
  3. Each Member shall adopt laws and regulations establishing requirements for on-board hospital and medical care facilities and equipment and training on ships that fly its flag.
  4. National laws and regulations shall as a minimum provide for the following requirements:                                                                         (a) all ships shall carry a medicine chest, medical equipment and a medical guide, the specifics of which shall be prescribed and subject to regular inspection by the competent authority; the national requirements shall take into account the type of ship, the number of persons on board and the nature, destination and duration of voyages and relevant national and international recommended medical standards;                               (b) ships carrying 100 or more persons and ordinarily engaged on international voyages of more than three days’ duration shall carry a qualified medical doctor who is responsible for providing medical care; national laws or regulations shall also specify which other ships shall be required to carry a medical doctor, taking into account, inter alia, such factors as the duration, nature and conditions of the voyage and the number of seafarers on board;                                                                                                               (c) ships which do not carry a medical doctor shall be required to have either at least one seafarer on board who is in charge of medical care and administering medicine as part of their regular duties or at least one seafarer on board competent to provide medical first aid; persons in charge of medical care on board who are not medical doctors shall have satisfactorily completed training in medical care that meets the requirements of the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, 1978, as amended (“STCW”); seafarers designated to provide medical first aid shall have satisfactorily completed training in medical first aid that meets the requirements of STCW; national laws or regulations shall specify the level of approved training required taking into account, inter alia, such factors as the duration, nature and conditions of the voyage and the number of seafarers on board; and                                                                                                                          (d) the competent authority shall ensure by a prearranged system that medical advice by radio or satellite communication to ships at sea, including specialist advice, is available 24 hours a day; medical advice, including the onward transmission of medical messages by radio or satellite communication between a ship and those ashore giving the advice, shall be available free of charge to all ships irrespective of the flag that they fly.

4.2 – Shipowner's liability
Purpose: To ensure that seafarers are protected from the financial consequences of sickness, injury or death occurring in connection with their employment.
1. Each Member shall adopt laws and regulations requiring that shipowners of ships that fly its flag are responsible for health protection and medical care of all seafarers working on board the ships in accordance with the following minimum standards:
(a) shipowners shall be liable to bear the costs for seafarers working on their ships in respect of sickness and injury of the seafarers occurring between the date of commencing duty and the date upon which they are deemed duly repatriated, or arising from their employment between those dates;
(b) shipowners shall provide financial security to assure compensation in the event of the death or long-term disability of seafarers due to an occupational injury, illness or hazard, as set out in national law, the seafarers’ employment agreement or collective agreement;
(c) shipowners shall be liable to defray the expense of medical care, including medical treatment and the supply of the necessary medicines and therapeutic appliances, and board and lodging away from home until the sick or injured seafarer has recovered, or until the sickness or incapacity has been declared of a permanent
character; and
(d) shipowners shall be liable to pay the cost of burial expenses in the case of death occurring on board or ashore during the period of engagement.
2. National laws or regulations may limit the liability of the shipowner to defray the expense of medical care and board and lodging to a period which shall not be less than 16 weeks from the day of the injury or the commencement of the sickness.
3. Where the sickness or injury results in incapacity for work the shipowner shall be liable:
(a) to pay full wages as long as the sick or injured seafarers remain on board or until the seafarers have been repatriated in accordance with this Convention; and
(b) to pay wages in whole or in part as prescribed by national laws or regulations or as provided for in collective agreements from the time when the seafarers are repatriated or landed until their recovery or, if earlier, until they are entitled to cash benefits under the legislation of the Member concerned.
4. National laws or regulations may limit the liability of the shipowner to pay wages in whole or in part in respect of a seafarer no longer on board to a period which shall not be less than 16 weeks from the day of the injury or the commencement of the
5. National laws or regulations may exclude the shipowner from liability in respect of:
(a) injury incurred otherwise than in the service of the ship;
(b) injury or sickness due to the wilful misconduct of the sick, injured or deceased seafarer; and
(c) sickness or infirmity intentionally concealed when the engagement is entered into.
6. National laws or regulations may exempt the shipowner from liability to defray the expense of medical care and board and lodging and burial expenses in so far as such liability is assumed by the public authorities.
7. Shipowners or their representatives shall take measures for safeguarding property left on board by sick, injured or deceased seafarers and for returning it to them or to their next of kin.

4.3 – Health and safety protection and accident prevention
Purpose: To ensure that seafarers’ work environment on board ships promotes occupational safety and health
1. The laws and regulations and other measures to be adopted in accordance with Regulation 4.3, paragraph 3, shall include the following subjects:
(a) the adoption and effective implementation and promotion of occupational safety and health policies and programmes on ships that fly the Member’s flag, including risk evaluation as well as training and instruction of seafarers;
(b) reasonable precautions to prevent occupational accidents, injuries and diseases on board ship, including measures to reduce and prevent the risk of exposure to harmful levels of ambient factors and chemicals as well as the risk of injury or disease
that may arise from the use of equipment and machinery on board ships;
(c) on-board programmes for the prevention of occupational accidents, injuries and diseases and for continuous improvement in occupational safety and health protection, involving seafarers’ representatives and all other persons concerned in their implementation, taking account of preventive measures, including engineering and design control, substitution of processes and procedures for collective and individual tasks, and the use of personal protective equipment; and
(d) requirements for inspecting, reporting and correcting unsafe conditions and for investigating and reporting on-board occupational accidents.
2. The provisions referred to in paragraph 1 of this Standard shall:
(a) take account of relevant international instruments dealing with occupational safety and health protection in general and with specific risks, and address all matters relevant to the prevention of occupational accidents, injuries and diseases that may be applicable to the work of seafarers and particularly those which
are specific to maritime employment;
(b) clearly specify the obligation of shipowners, seafarers and others concerned to comply with the applicable standards and with the ship’s occupational safety and health policy and programme with special attention being paid to the safety and health of seafarers under the age of 18;
(c) specify the duties of the master or a person designated by the master, or both, to take specific responsibility for the implementation of and compliance with the ship’s occupational safety and health policy and programme; and
(d) specify the authority of the ship’s seafarers appointed or elected as safety representatives to participate in meetings of the ship’s safety committee. Such a committee shall be established on board a ship on which there are five or more seafarers.
3. The laws and regulations and other measures referred to in Regulation 4.3, paragraph 3, shall be regularly reviewed in consultation with the representatives of the shipowners’ and seafarers’ organizations and, if necessary, revised to take account of
changes in technology and research in order to facilitate continuous improvement in occupational safety and health policies and programmes and to provide a safe occupational environment for seafarers on ships that fly the Member’s flag.
4. Compliance with the requirements of applicable international instruments on the acceptable levels of exposure to workplace hazards on board ships and on the development and implementation of ships’ occupational safety and health policies and programmes shall be considered as meeting the requirements of this Convention.
5. The competent authority shall ensure that:
(a) occupational accidents, injuries and diseases are adequately reported, taking into account the guidance provided by the International Labour Organization with respect to the reporting and recording of occupational accidents and diseases;
(b) comprehensive statistics of such accidents and diseases are kept, analysed and published and, where appropriate, followed up by research into general trends and into the hazards identified; and
(c) occupational accidents are investigated.
6. Reporting and investigation of occupational safety and health matters shall be designed to ensure the protection of seafarers’ personal data, and shall take account of the guidance provided by the International Labour Organization on this matter.
7. The competent authority shall cooperate with shipowners’ and seafarers’ organizations to take measures to bring to the attention of all seafarers information concerning particular hazards on board ships, for instance, by posting official notices containing relevant instructions.
8. The competent authority shall require that shipowners conducting risk evaluation in relation to management of occupational safety and health refer to appropriate statistical information from their ships and from general statistics provided by the competent authority.

4.4 – Access to shore-based welfare facilities
Purpose: To ensure that seafarers working on board a ship have access to shore-based facilities and services to secure their health and well-being
1. Each Member shall require, where welfare facilities exist on its territory, that they are available for the use of all seafarers, irrespective of nationality, race, coloursex, religion, political opinion or social origin and irrespective of the flag State of the
ship on which they are employed or engaged or work.
2. Each Member shall promote the development of welfare facilities in appropriate ports of the country and determine, after consultation with the shipowners’ and seafarers’ organizations concerned, which ports are to be regarded as appropriate.
3. Each Member shall encourage the establishment of welfare boards which shall regularly review welfare facilities and services to ensure that they are appropriate in the light of changes in the needs of seafarers resulting from technical, operational and other developments in the shipping industry.

4.5 – Social security
Purpose: To ensure that measures are taken with a view to providing seafarers with access to social security protection
1. The branches to be considered with a view to achieving progressively comprehensive social security protection under Regulation 4.5 are: medical care, sickness benefit, unemployment benefit, old-age benefit, employment injury benefit, family
benefit, maternity benefit, invalidity benefit and survivors’ benefit, complementing the protection provided for under Regulations 4.1, on medical care, and 4.2, on shipowners’ liability, and under other titles of this Convention.
2. At the time of ratification, the protection to be provided by each Member in accordance with Regulation 4.5, paragraph 1, shall include at least three of the nine branches listed in paragraph 1 of this Standard.
3. Each Member shall take steps according to its national circumstances to provide the complementary social security protection referred to in paragraph 1 of this Standard to all seafarers ordinarily resident in its territory. This responsibility could be
satisfied, for example, through appropriate bilateral or multilateral agreements or contribution-based systems. The resulting protection shall be no less favourable than that enjoyed by shoreworkers resident in their territory.
4. Notwithstanding the attribution of responsibilities in paragraph 3 of this Standard, Members may determine, through bilateral and multilateral agreements and through provisions adopted in the framework of regional economic integration organizations,
other rules concerning the social security legislation to which seafarers are subject.
5. Each Member’s responsibilities with respect to seafarers on ships that fly its flag shall include those provided for by Regulations 4.1 and 4.2 and the related provisions of the Code, as well as those that are inherent in its general obligations under international law.
6. Each Member shall give consideration to the various ways in which comparable benefits will, in accordance with national law and practice, be provided to seafarers in the absence of adequate coverage in the branches referred to in paragraph 1 of this Standard.
7. The protection under Regulation 4.5, paragraph 1, may, as appropriate, be contained in laws or regulations, in private schemes or in collective bargaining agreements or in a combination of these.
8. To the extent consistent with their national law and practice, Members shall cooperate, through bilateral or multilateral agreements or other arrangements, to ensure the maintenance of social security rights, provided through contributory or non-contributory schemes, which have been acquired, or are in the course of acquisition, by all seafarers regardless of residence.
9. Each Member shall establish fair and effective procedures for the settlement of disputes.
10. Each Member shall at the time of ratification specify the branches for which protection is provided in accordance with paragraph 2 of this Standard. It shall subsequently notify the Director-General of the International Labour Office when it provides social security protection in respect of one or more other branches stated in paragraph 1 of this Standard. The Director-General shall maintain a register of this information and shall make it available to all interested parties.
11. The reports to the International Labour Office pursuant to article 22 of the Constitution, shall also include information regarding steps taken in accordance with Regulation 4.5, paragraph 2, to extend protection to other branches.


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