ILO meeting agrees MLC compliance guidelines

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has agreed guidelines to assist governments in implementing the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) 2006 following a Meeting of Experts on Maritime Occupational Safety and Health.

The guidelines are intended to aid in creating national laws and regulations by providing practical information relating to the maritime working environment including high levels of stress and fatigue, long hours of work, demanding physical working conditions, isolation and potentially hazardous tasks.

The document details responsibilities for governments, shipowners and seafarers related to accident and illness prevention practices, implementation, training and emergency and accident response.

“We are very pleased with the outcome of the work of the expert meeting this week. We believe in promoting compliance with the MLC and the new guidelines that we have agreed will make an effective contribution to this,” said Tim Springett, vice-chairman for the Employers’ Group.

Speaking on behalf of the government group, Julie Carlton, head of seafarer safety and health branch at the United Kingdom’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency, said, “We are pleased to have agreed these guidelines for competent authorities on the implementation of this important aspect of the MLC, 2006. The final document provides flexibility without compromising on standards of occupational safety and health to protect seafarers, and will be a useful resource for those setting up or reviewing their OSH frameworks in compliance with the MLC, 2006.”

In their concluding document, experts said the measures “should not be seen as an economic cost but as an investment to continuous improvement to the safety and health of seafarers.”

The Meeting of Experts on Maritime Occupational Safety and Health was held in Geneva from 13-17 October and attended by 102 delegates including six governments, six shipowners, six seafarer experts, inter-gvoernmental organisations, non-governmental organisations and observers and advisors from 42 governments.