Ship Safe Working Practices (COSWP)

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

Ships Code of Safe Working Practices UK

The ships code outlines a regulatory framework for health and safety on ships. It also includes safety management and all statutory duties on board.

The law states that ships must carry an up-to-date copy of the ‘Code of safe working practices for merchant seafarers (COSWP)‘.

This rule applies to all UK ships unless they are a fishing boat or a pleasure craft.

You can buy the up-to-date consolidated edition 2011 from The Stationery Office bookstore.

There is further reading available on safety standards and requirements for merchant ships. Use the ‘Merchant Shipping and Fishing Vessels (Health and Safety at Work) Regulations 1997‘.

Note: You must make a copy of the ships code available for any seaman who requests to see it.

Ship Health and Safety Signs Onboard

You must display specific health and safety signs on the ship. These include emergency escape signs and any relevant danger warning signs. All permanent fixed signs must meet the legal requirements.

Check the ‘Merchant Shipping and Fishing Vessels (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 2001‘. It informs you how and where you must display safety signs and signals on board.

Permit to Work System on Ships

The main purpose of the ‘permit to work’ system on ships is to reduce the risk of accidents on board. The system means seafarers must get written permission from a senior officer before performing any hazardous tasks.

Examples of hazardous ship work includes:

Examples of hazardous ship work includes:

  • Electrical testing
  • Entry into enclosed spaces
  • Working aloft and outboard
  • Working with boilers
  • Performing ‘hot work’ such as welding (work which could ignite flammable material)
  • Working in unmanned machinery spaces

Permit to Work Template UK

  • ‘Blank permit to work form for work in unmanned machinery spaces’
  • ‘Blank permit to work for entry into enclosed or confined space’

Ship Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

All workers who perform dangerous tasks must have suitable personal protective equipment. Using protective equipment is for situations when you cannot avoid or reduce risks to an acceptable level by safe working practices.

In this case, protective equipment should:

  • Meet the required standards and be a correct fit for the worker (or adjustable).
  • Be compatible with any other equipment the worker needs to use.
  • Be easily accessible, properly stored, and well maintained.
  • Be provided to workers without charge (unless used outside the workplace).

Note: Read ‘MSN 1870 (M+F) Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 1999‘ for further guidance.

Ship Noise and Vibration

A risk assessment must take place to identify who is at risk from noise or vibration on a ship. Once identified, you should determine how to reduce them or remove these risks. As a result, you must inform the workers about:

  • The nature of noise or vibration risks.
  • How to eliminate or reduce the risks from noise or vibration.
  • The correct use of any protective equipment.
  • How to detect and report signs of injury.

Note: The MCA provides information on controlling the risks of noise and vibration for workers at sea. Exemptions from the noise and vibration requirements apply in some cases.

UK Ship Safe Working Practices and Personal Protective Equipment