The UK Rules
'Follow the Regulations'
Ships at Sea

Health and Safety on Ships

A ship at sea runs in a self-contained environment. That means the ship owners and operators are responsible for health and safety on ships.

HSE SHIPS: The Health and Safety Executive provides training courses on ship safety.

All ship owners must ensure their staff have training in 3 areas of health and safety.

Ship workers safety training must include First Aid, Fire Prevention and Manual Handling.

The HSE and MCA help identify particular hazards that the crew of a ship may face at sea. The most common hazards include slips, trips, and falls.

A commercial ship has an increased risk of health and safety issues. A list of complex dangers could include electricity, fuel, and combustible materials.

This adds danger for seafarers on board seagoing ships or small commercial vessels. Thus, operators must protect the health and safety of workers on board by:

Ship Health and Safety Training

All workers must receive basic ship health and safety training. You can download HSE 'Health and Safety Training' for further detailed information.

Written Health and Safety Policy

The ship must have a policy setting out how the health and safety issues will get managed. The Health and Safety Executive provide guidance on writing safety policies.

Conducting Ship Risk Assessments

Operators must carry out regular risk assessments. The purpose is to test how accidents, injuries or illnesses could happen on board the ship. It also provides an opportunity to see what steps you can take to reduce the risks of them happening.

Note: You must review risk assessments every year. They also need reviewing any time there are significant changes to the ship or to working activities.

Chapter 1 of the 'Code of safe working practices for merchant seamen: consolidated edition 2010' has the basic requirements for risk assessments on board ships.

The 'Merchant Shipping and Fishing Vessels (Health and Safety at Work) Regulations 1997' has the requirements for risk assessments on merchant ships.

Ship Risk Assessment Forms

You can download all risk assessment forms for ships at sea on the Maritime and Coastguard Agency website.

COSWP: The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) publish the Code of Safe Working Practices (COSWP) in the United Kingdom.

Health and Safety on Board Ships and for Ship Workers
Last Updated 2017