Tag Archive for: SMS

While most of us hope we never have to deal with an emergency situation at sea or in our shore-based business, the fact is we can find ourselves in an emergency situation which requires swift action at any moment.

Even though we don’t think about it, the simple fact is we face the potential of a fire onboard our vessel or in our office or factory every day. It’s not only fires there are so many other emergency situations that can occur both at sea and ashore.

Potential emergencies at sea

A short list of emergencies that can occur at sea which includes but is not limited to:

  • Fire
  • Person overboard
  • Injuries both minor, serious and critical
  • Collision
  • Grounding
  • Flooding (taking on water)
  • Adverse weather

Potential emergencies onshore

A short list of emergencies that can occur onshore which includes but is not limited to:

  • Fire
  • Injuries both minor, serious and critical
  • Forklift accidents
  • Vehicle accidents/collisions
  • Collisions between vehicles and people
  • Flooding by natural causes or plumbing failures
  • Bomb/terrorist threats
  • Working at heights
  • Working in confined spaces

Both of these lists are to highlight potentially what can happen at sea and in shore-based facilities and start you thinking about how you would deal with them.

For vessels it starts with having a Safety Management System (SMS) that complies with either Marine Order 504 or the ISM Code. The SMS must have documented procedures for dealing with onboard emergencies.

Shore-based facilities the starting point is having an Occupational Health and Safety Management System (OHSMS) that preferably complies with ISO 45001. This manual must have documented procedures for dealing with workplace emergencies.

The emergency procedures for both of these should include procedures for all potential emergencies identified which is the first step to being “emergency prepared”.

The second step is to ensure all vessel crew and shore-based workers are inducted into each procedure relevant to their allocated duties.

Following on from that all crew and workers must be trained in emergency procedures that apply to them. Training should include initial and ongoing training to ensure they can deal with emergency situations in a safe and efficient manner.

Note that all crew &/or workers are not necessarily responsible for all emergency procedures as they may not be involved in some tasks or areas where the potential dangers exist.

From a vessel or business owners’ perspective they must ensure all of the above are in place and undertaken to ensure your vessel or business has the best chance of surviving emergency situations.

While we understand that all of this is a lot of work how much work do you think it takes to deal with the loss of a vessel or business facility or worse still the serious injury or death of crew members or workers?

Shorlink’s Recommendation

Number one recommendation is to ensure you have a compliant SMS for commercial vessels &/or a OHSMS for business owners.

Actually, this is not just a recommendation it’s law!


The best tip we can give you is once you have your SMS or OHSMS in place is to ensure you induct and train all crew members &/or shore-based workers in emergency procedures.

Failure to do this puts you, your vessel or business and the lives of those who work for you in serious danger!

Is it worth the risk?

You can either conduct these inductions/trainings yourself, or Shorlink can provide these for peace of mind.  Click Here for more information.

While your SMS may meet AMSA requirements under MO504 will it stand up if challenged in court?

In many cases…NO!

We all know AMSA assesses SMS’s to ensure they have all the components required under MO504 and we’re all in favour of that because it helps you in getting your SMS up to speed.

But…did you know that while your SMS may meet AMSA’s requirements does it meet Work Health & Safety requirements?

Unfortunately, in many cases it does not which leaves you exposed in the event of an incident.

The bottom line is AMSA undertake an “assessment” of your SMS which does not, in most cases take in the content of your operational and emergency procedures to any extent.

Along with the risk assessments the procedures are the backbone of your SMS and if they are missing or don’t reflect how you do things you’re in trouble.

We’ve been involved in developing, auditing and assessing safety management systems, including risk assessments and procedures for over 30 years and we’re available to help you with your SMS compliance.

Shorlink now has available a number of services to help you in getting your SMS to a level where it offers the best legal protection. Listed below are our 3 key services to ensure your compliance.

  1. Basic Assessment – FOR FREE!
    We take marine safety so seriously, that we offer a free assessment of your current SMS.
    Our Principal Consult will review your current SMS and provide you with a report of areas which should be revised and procedures that should be included if required to meet AMSA requirements.
  2. Gap Analysis.
    Our Lead Auditor will conduct a gap analysis to determine the strength of your SMS including an initial review of your operational and emergency procedures. A written report will be provided upon completion. Prices start at a low $120.00
  3. Full System Audit.
    A full system audit entails a detailed review of your entire SMS including all operational and emergency procedures. This is undertaken by our Lead Auditor. An external full system audit provides the best possible protection in the event of an incident and…gives you peace of mind. For your best price to get peace of mind contact our office by…

Shorlink’s Recommendation

We highly recommend having your SMS reviewed by a competent person who has considerable industry experience.

If you don’t use Shorlink that’s fine but please be aware of people out there saying they have experience when, in fact have little or no relevant experience in the area you operate.

Of course we recommend Shorlink, that’s only natural but if not please be careful of who you engage to assess or audit your SMS!


When looking for an external party to assess or audit your SMS and in particular your procedures ask them about their experience in the operations you undertake.

If they don’t have hands on experience in your field, then think very carefully abut engaging them.

Our Principal Consultant and Lead Auditor, Wayne Linklater has been in the maritime industry for 50 years and has extensive hands on experience in boatbuilding, commercial vessel operations, safety management and auditing.

Operators are under pressure like never before and just keeping up with business and operations is hard let alone trying to keep your SMS and  crew training requirements up to date.

We’ve developed a unique range of managed services to take the stress, worry and time involvement away from you and free up your time and focus on what you need to.

Something to remember is…just because you tick the AMSA box doesn’t mean you have the adequate legal protection when you need it most and that’s where we come in.

Our managed service options start with complete management of your SMS and related documentation and allow you to add in other services to provide a comprehensive management plan.

SMS Management

Shorlink’s SMS Management is designed to get your SMS compliant and make sure it stays that way.

The basic service includes:

  • Ensuring all crew and other staff are inducted into your SMS
  • Monitoring AMSA for changes relevant to your vessel and operations
  • Updating your SMS where required and updating the Revisions and Review Log
  • Undertaking Annual Reviews and completing the Revisions and Review Log
  • A review of induction documents
  • A review of training records
  • A review of follow-up documents
  • A review of your vessels Log Book
  • Communications with AMSA where required in relation to your SMS

This is a very cost-efficient service that takes the worry away from you about keeping your SMS up to date and compliant at all times.

Professional Maritime Consultancy

Add a set number of hours for maritime consultancy into your plan to suit your requirements. Clients are using this for specific advice and especially where marine incidents are involved. Include hours relevant to you in your plan and get 10% of the current rate or you can pay as needed and receive a 5% discount.

Safety and Wellbeing Consultant

We are providing a highly recognised service for Safety and Wellbeing that can be linked into your maritime consultancy. We act as an external Safety and Wellbeing Consultant where crew members can contact us for advice and support. This is being recognised as a major incentive by WorkSafe and AMSA for organisations of all sizes.

Emergency Response Training

Include any of our specialised emergency response training services into your plan to take even more stress away from you.

Onboard “vessel specific” training (drills)

Designed to ensure your crew have the practical knowledge and skills to handle onboard emergencies. These sessions include

  • Identification and location of all safety and firefighting equipment and appliances
  • Identification, location and operation of all fuel and air shut offs
  • Location and use of engine room fire suppression systems
  • Launching life rafts or Karley Floats
  • Dealing with onboard emergencies
  • In-water survival techniques

This is a valuable service that takes the worry about training requirements and are they being meet and a service that many of our clients are already using.

Hands on distress flare and fire extinguisher training

We provide hands on training in the use of distress flares and portable fire extinguishers where all participants activate a distress flare and portable fire extinguisher. This is all undertaken under the supervision of one of our experienced maritime trainers.

Shore-based training

Our shore-based training sessions are suited to larger organisations where we can deliver:

  • General safety requirement presentations
  • Detailed group SMS inductions
  • Other training as may be required

Managed Service Options

Our managed services are designed to allow you to develop a plan that suits your specific needs and budget. Contact us today to find out how we can save you time and money.

Shorlink’s Recommendation

Our recommendation is to take your stress, worry and time involvement away from areas that you don’t specialise in and hand them over to Shorlink which will allow you to get down to business.


Contact us to see just how easy and cost affordable our managed services are in comparison to having to deal with keeping things up to date yourself!

Both revisions and your Annual Review are important things to ensure your SMS remains compliant with Marine Order 504 and covers off the legal aspect in the event of an incident.

Above: Sample of Shorlink’s Revision and Review Log page

Note that you can have a separate form for Revisions and Annual Reviews, but we put them together to make reviewing and auditing your SMS as simple as possible.

One of the first things that will be looked by the authorities following an incident is your SMS and in particular the Annual Review and to a lesser degree revisions. This is to ensure the manual has been reviewed and verified as required by MO504.

If your Annual Reviews are not up to date then technically your SMS is not compliant so be sure to take note of the contents of this newsletter and as always, if in doubt contact Shorlink for assistance.

So…lets look at each one individually.


Revisions may be undertaken at any time during the year and must be undertaken when…

  • Any changes to or additional operations have been included
  • There are any changes to a procedure
  • A better way of undertaking a procedure has been identified
  • Any changes to the vessel or machinery are undertaken
  • Any changes to owner’s or emergency contact details
  • Any changes to the DP have occurred
  • Anything else in relation to the vessel, its operations

It’s a requirement that when a revision has been undertaken it must be recorded in an appropriate manner.

Don’t simply change a procedure or any other information and fail to record it because a failure to record it leaves your SMS non-compliant. It also puts you in a dangerous position should an incident occur.

When interviewed you’ll explain what you did and that may not align with the procedure that’s in your SMS that’s where the trouble starts.

So…make sure that if you undertake a revision of any part of your SMS you record it!

Annual Reviews

As the name implies, these are undertaken every year on the anniversary date of your SMS. Failure to undertake your Annual Review may leave you exposed if inspected by AMSA or any of their delegates in an incident.

Completing your Annual Reviews helps if your involved in an incident as it shows that you continually monitor your SMS and the operations onboard your vessel.

We have a set procedure for undertaking Annual Reviews that we recommend be followed to ensure you stay on top of your legal requirements.

I’ve developed this process over many years of dealing with quality systems in my factories and onboard vessels. It’s structured around the international requirements for conducting audits and if followed covers all the aspects required.

Shorlink’s Recommendation

We recommend 2 key steps to ensure you remain compliant at all times:

  1. Whenever you make any changes to your SMS including contact names and details or procedures ensure you print out the pages with the changes, replace the old pages with the new ones and record the details in the review form.
  2. The same thing goes for your Annual Review, ensure you update the pages where changes have been made and record the details in the Annual Review form.


One very simple tip and that is to record the next due date of the Annual Review in your diary so as to ensure it gets done on time.

If you don’t already a form in place then I recommend you develop a specific form for this purpose to ensure all the required information is recorded.

Log Books

While not technically a log book our Revision & Review Log page is a critical part of your documentation and must be kept up to date. Like a free copy of our Revision & Review Log page then simply email us at sms@shorlink.com and we’ll email you your free Revision & Review Log page!

While conducting onboard training and auditing log books it’s become apparent that Master’s either don’t know what they are required to record in the deck log or simply just don’t care.

Marine Order 504 clearly specifies what must be recorded in your log book. Failing to record the required information may leave you exposed in the event of an incident.

Your vessels Log Book  is one of the first things an investigator will look at when investigating an incident.

If the required information is not in the log then you may have serious trouble defending yourself so make sure you record what’s required!

What MO 504 specifies as must be recorded?

The Master must ensure the following details are recorded in the vessels Log Book:

  1. Any illness or injury of persons onboard;
  2. Any marine incident, other incident or accident involving the vessel or its equipment;
  3. Any assistance rendered to another vessel;
  4. Any unusual occurrence or incident;
  5. All communications/messages sent or received for an emergency;
  6. Any operation of the vessel for recreational purposes.

What we recommend as additional information?

  1. Time of departure and arrival;
  2. Time of any passenger briefing where passengers are carried;
  3. New crew inductions and training;
  4. Time of induction of any other persons onboard. This may be contractors, technicians, observers or any other person;
  5. Proposed destination or course;
  6. Summary of weather conditions on departure;
  7. Position at regular intervals;
  8. Any major changes in weather conditions;
  9. Bunkering if not recorded elsewhere;
  10. Dispensing of medical supplies if not recorded elsewhere
  11. Ongoing emergency training;
  12. Any safety issues

While all this sounds like a lot of writing it only takes a few seconds once you get the hang of it.

By keeping a detailed Log Book, you are effectively providing a layer of protection for yourself when an incident occurs.

Many Masters say to me that they’re too busy to do this, but my response is a few seconds every couple of hours can save you days or even months in court defending yourself!

Shorlink’s Recommendation

Our primary recommendation is to ensure you record all of the requirements of MO 504 and we strongly recommend recording all new crew inductions, your position at regular intervals, any noticeable changes in weather and passenger inductions where applicable.

These few items are going to be a big help in the event of a marine incident and possibly time and money in legal costs.


Our number one recommendations is to get in the habit of keeping your Log Book up to date at all times because you never know when you may need it.

Log Books Deck Log Book

Vessel Log Books are a necessity but there are so many variations out there in size, format and levels of complexity. This is why we developed our Log Book in an easy-to-use format with only the necessary requirements to make recording your information easy. So many of our clients and non-clients have switched to our easy-to-use Log Book, why don’t you?