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Illustrate the provision kept towards establishing procedures for identification and testing of "critical" equipment under ISM Code. How the list of critical equipment and systems are made and on what factors are they dependent?

1. A new chapter management for the safe operation of ships was added to SOLAS and the amendments introducing the new chapter IX entered into force on 1st July 1998. The chapter made mandatory the International Safety Management Code which established the following objectives:
  • to provide for safe practices in ship operation and a safe working environment
  • to establish safeguards against all identified risks
  • to continuously improve safety management skills of personnel, including preparing for emergencies

2. Critical equipment/system is that, the sudden failure of which may result in a hazardous situation. These are the equipments, whose failure can cause an accident or result in a hazardous situation, thereby causing injury to personnel or loss of life or damage to the marine environment or property.

3. As per, Element 10.3 of the ISM code, It is the responsibility of the company to establish procedures in the Safety Management System to identity such systems and/or equipments. The company should establish procedures in its safety management system to identify equipment and technical system, the sudden operational failure of which may result in hazardous situation. The SMS should provide for specific measures aimed at promoting the reliability
of such equipment or systems. These measures should include the regular testing of standby arrangements or equipment or technical systems that are not in continuous use. The Safety Management System must, with respect to critical technical system/equipments:
  • Have procedures to identify them
  • Have procedures to ensure their tests and functional reliability
  • Have procedures to establish and use alternative arrangements on sudden failure
  • Have procedures to test stand by equipment
  • Have procedure to ensure that single failure does not cause of Critical‘ ship functions‘ that could lead to an accident
  • Have procedures to ensure that system/equipment inactive for some time is tested regularly and prior to conducting critical operations.

4. As per Element 7‘ of the ISM Code, ‘ the company must establish procedures for the preparation of plans and instructions including checklists if any for key shipboard operations related to the safety of the ship and the prevention of pollution.

5. It is recognized that all equipments are important for the proper operation of the vessel. If most of the equipments on board the ship are considered as critical, the usefulness of the actual critical equipments becomes limited.

6. The risk assessment and root cause analysis of various past accidents, near-miss/ hazardous occurrence methods have been adopted for identifying the critical equipment and the list made to meet ISM Code criteria and limited to safety and environmental protection.

7. Hence, in combination with Element 10‘ the following shipboard
operations/items are subjected to inspection and test:
  • Securing watertight integrity
  • Navigation safety, including corrections to charts and publications
  • Oil transfer operations
  • Maintenance operations related to
  • Hull and superstructure steelwork
  • Safety, fire-fighting, life-saving equipment
  • Navigation equipment
  • Steering gear
  • Anchoring and mooring gear
  • Main engine and auxiliary engine
  • Pipelines and values
  • Cargo handling equipment
  • I.G. System
  • Electrical installations
  • Fire detection and alarm system
  • Bunkering operations
  • Navigation in restricted visibility/high-density traffic area
  • Operation in heavy weather
  • Critical machinery system

8. SHIPBOARD OPERATIONS can be categorized into:
(a) Normal Operations: Error becomes apparent, only after occurrence of a hazardous situation
(b) Critical Operations: Error directly leads to accident.
Critical Operations would include (but not limited to)
  • Navigation in restricted visibility
  • Navigation in high density traffic area
  • Navigation in restricted/narrow area
  • Heavy weather operations
  • Handling of hazardous cargo and noxious substances
  • Bunkering and oil transfer operation at sea
  • Cargo operations on Gas/Oil/Chemical tankers

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