The BIG benefits of a SMS

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The BIG benefits of SMS’s

Far too many owners, operators and crew feel that the only benefit of an SMS is ticking the AMSA box!

The reality is that is only a small part of the equation. In reality there are three specific areas in every SMS, and these are…

  1. Ticking the AMSA box. This covers the legal requirements under Marine Order 504 (MO504);
  2. A valuable training tool. A well-developed SMS is a key training tool if used correctly and can assist new and existing crew in understanding potential hazards, their duties onboard and emergency preparedness. Benefit level: BIG; and
  3. Delivering a multi-layer protection which covers owners, operators, managers, Masters, crew and all other persons involved in vessel operations. Benefit level: VERY BIG

To get a better understanding of just how big the benefits can be let’s dissect each of the three specific areas individually.

Ticking the AMSA box

AMSA specifies that domestic commercial vessels must have an SMS that complies with MO504 which means if you don’t have an SMS you’re not compliant. The benefit of having an SMS is that you meet the requirements and provided it has all the required components you’re not inline to be issued an Improvement Notice or worse still a Prohibition Notice. That’s a benefit!

As a Training Tool

We ensure that when inducting crew, we go into detail about the SMS and in particular the sections that relate directly to them. While we highlight the entire SMS the key sections we emphasise are…

  • Risk Assessment. We use this to demonstrate what hazards exist onboard. This is especially important for those new to the maritime industry.
  • Daily Procedures. Here we focus on the procedures each crew member is going to be undertaking in their daily duties. It’s important to note that not all crew members will be undertaking all procedures, so we like to have each crew member focus on procedures relevant to them.
  • Emergency Preparedness. It’s vital to all persons onboard that each and every crew member knows and understands all of these procedures for the vessel they are on. While a lot of the procedures a similar for many vessels there are factors that may not be.

That’s a BIG benefit!

Multi-layer protection

This is one of the biggest advantages of a well-developed SMS. So…what is a well-developed SMS?

A well-developed SMS will be “vessel specific” and have a Risk Register that identifies vessel and operational hazards and associated risks onboard and provide clear steps in all procedures. It will also have incorporated an induction process that covers all aspects of the vessel and operations. Along with these items there will be a clear, easy to follow record of inductions and training.

Multi-layer protection provides a clear line of protection for…

  • Owners and/or operators
  • Managers
  • Masters
  • Crew

That’s a VERY BIG benefit!

 Examples or our SMS BIG benefits

  1. One owner was on the receiving end of a legal claim against him for $250,000 by a deckhand who claimed he wasn’t inducted and received no training resulting in him being injured. A well-documented induction process including the crew member signing an induction agreement plus ongoing training which was again signed by the crew members put an end to this claim in minutes!
  2. Another crew member claim but this time for $750,000 which had the same outcome due to the induction, training and recording processes.
  3. A crew member dies because there was no real induction procedure and no training provided. The outcome was the owner had to face the Coroners Court. The potential for this to happen would have been greatly minimised if the crew member was inducted and received appropriate training. If the crew member was inducted and trained properly then went out and did what he did then the owner and Master would be in a much better position when investigated.
  4. There was a claim by a passenger that they were injured as a result of not receiving a safety briefing. The crew of this vessel followed the procedures in the SMS relating to the delivery of passenger inductions/briefings and also recorded the briefing in the Log Book. The Master and crew were not deemed negligent as it could be establish that the safety briefing was delivered.
  5. Yet another claim by a crew member relating to injuries sustained during work onboard. His claim was related to loading and unloading the vessel where he suffered a back injury. Outcome was it was established he was inducted and received onboard training. During the induction process manual handling was highlighted and the procedure gone through due to the nature of the work undertaken. The crew member signed the induction agreement and subsequent training session records. Outcome, another case dismissed.

I think by now you can all see the BIG benefit of having a well-developed SMS and ensuring your record keeping is up to date at all times.

So…there is no reason to become a victim of fraudulent claims by crew members or any other person onboard.

With a number of my clients, I go so far as to ensure all contractors are inducted onto the vessel and have them sign off on it. This is just another layer of protection that has BIG benefits.

I structure and deliver inductions and ongoing training for a large number of operators including some of the largest in the country and some of the smallest as well.

Don’t hesitate to contact me if you’d like to receive the BIG benefits my management of inductions and ongoing training deliver!

Shorlink’s Recommendation

To get the best BIG benefits from your SMS it must be vessel specific and include a risk register that identifies the vessel and operational hazards. To get the BIG benefits from your SMS we strongly recommend engaging a third party to ensure your SMS delivers in all 3 areas. While there are many people out there writing SMS’s, they may not deliver the big benefit. Our crew have extensive hands-on experience and always deliver the BIG benefits for all our clients!


Having a great SMS is great but inductions and ongoing training are vital components in every SMS so…how well will your inductions and ongoing training hold up in times of need? Our best tip to take the stress out of it is to contact Shorlink for assistance.

Log Books

A dedicated easy to use log book that is maintained properly forms part of the big benefit for owners and operators. Our easy-to-use log book is now in use with many of our clients and a large number of non-clients so why not get yours today.