MSC.1/Circ.1206 Measures to Prevent Accidents with Lifeboats


  Circular Letter


(26 May 2006)


1. The Maritime Safety Committee, at its eighty-first session 10 to 19 May 2006, recalled that at its seventy-fifth session (15 to 24 May 2002), it had considered the issue of the unacceptably high number of accidents with lifeboats in which crew were being injured, sometimes fatally, while participating in lifeboat drills and/or inspections, and noted that most accidents fell under the following categories:


.1 failure of on-load release mechanism;


.2 inadvertent operation of on-load release mechanism;


.3 inadequate maintenance of lifeboats, davits and launching equipment;


.4 communication failures;


.5 lack of familiarity with lifeboats, davits, equipment and associated controls;


.6 unsafe practices during lifeboat drills and inspections; and


.7 design faults other than on-load release mechanisms.


2. Pending further consideration of the problem, the Committee approved MSC/Circ.1049 on Accidents with lifeboats, to draw the attention of manufacturers, shipowners, crews and classification societies to the personal injury and loss of life that may follow inadequate attention to the design, construction, maintenance and operation of lifeboats, davits and associated equipment and urged all concerned to take necessary action to prevent further accidents with lifeboats. It invited Member Governments to:


.1 bring the circular to the attention of their maritime Administrations, relevant industry organizations, manufacturers, shipowners, crews and classification societies;


.2 take the necessary action to prevent further accidents with lifeboats pending the development of appropriate IMO guidance;


.3 ensure that:


.3.1 on-load release equipment used on ships flying their flag is in full compliance with the requirements of paragraphs to of the LSA Code;


.3.2 all appropriate documentation for the maintenance and adjustment of lifeboats, launching appliances and associated equipment is available on board;


.3.3 personnel undertaking inspections, maintenance and adjustment of lifeboats, launching appliances and associated equipment are fully trained and familiar with these duties;


.3.4 maintenance of lifeboats, launching appliances and associated equipment is carried out in accordance with approved established procedures;


.3.5 lifeboat drills are conducted in accordance with SOLAS regulation III/19.3.3 for the purpose of ensuring that ship’s personnel will be able to safely embark and launch the lifeboats in an emergency;


.3.6 the principles of safety and health at work apply to drills as well;


.3.7 personnel undertaking maintenance and repair activities are appropriately qualified;


.3.8 hanging-off pennants should only be used for maintenance purposes and not during training exercises;


.3.9 all tests required for the design and approval of life-saving appliances are conducted rigorously, according to the guidelines developed by the Organization, in order to identify and rectify any design faults at an early stage;


.3.10 the equipment is easily accessible for inspections and maintenance and is proven durable in harsh operational conditions, in addition to withstanding prototype tests; and


.3.11 the approving authorities or bodies pay close attention to proper workmanship and state-of-the-art possibilities when assessing equipment for approval; and


.4 encourage shipowners, when undertaking maintenance and repair activities, to employ qualified personnel, preferably certified by the manufacturer.


3. Member Governments were further invited, while enforcing the provisions of SOLAS regulation IX/4.3, to ensure that the above issues are addressed through the Safety Management System of the company, as appropriate.


4. The Committee further recalled that, at its seventy-seventh session (28 May to 6 June 2003), recognizing the experience gained since the approval of the Guidelines on inspection and maintenance of lifeboat on-load release gear (MSC/Circ.614) at its sixty-second session (24 to 28 May 1993), and that the implementation of expanded and improved guidelines could contribute towards a reduction of the incidence of


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