The significance of safety manuals


Development of plans and procedures for recovery of persons from the water is sought, without realizing who is going to read the manual. Even the normal instructions and procedures under ISM code are rarely read by any one. During spare time, the third or second officer lays out these manuals on the bridge and spreads the word by mouth, when you come up, please come and sign the manuals on the index pages. Ninety five per cent of the crew sign them even without knowing the title of the manual they are signing (they indulge in some small talk or a joke while signing). This doesn’t mean that they are bad and unproductive.

Such techniques can more effectively be taught during safety meetings, training drills and by showing and discussing a video. We like to view and learn instead of learning through reading. Are you aware that training manuals (safety manuals) on board are the least read books on the ship, though these are ship specific? These books can be read in your cabin and you can keep it back to its actual location after 3 to 4 days. You can also read them in ECR, bridge in open seas during long voyages.

We already have SCBA compressors on board but generally the responsibility is passed on to third officer and third engineer to be familiar with it. It is better to operate and get familiar about it during the drills. If someone inquires you about air quality, don’t get stumped.

I have spent many years at sea but if you ask me to write about the certificates required to be carried by a vessel, even I may miss two or three of these. When you go to recruiting office officials take your 14 to 15 certificates for scanning. Unless you remain careful, the last original document will remain stuck with the machine. Hence it is necessary to count the documents before leaving the office. Half of these certificates may be bogus, issued without adequate training and signed by gentlemen who themselves may not be upto date with correct knowledge. There are COCs and CDCs issued by Panama, Liberia, Cayman Island, Marshall Island, Norwegian, Belize etc; and probably you will require another briefcase to hold all these documents. The same aspect is applicable to oil record books.

IACS must ask its members to prepare a report to ascertain how many bunker tanks on board are really in use. One or two of them might not be operating due to sludge in it or heating coils leaking and not repaired due to economic constraints. IMO have been performing a very good job. However, they must introspect to see if they have inadvertently burdened only the seamen with documentation and opened avenues for others to make money.