Boat Safety Scheme publishes outcomes from consultation in to hire boats requirements

Following the public consultation in Autumn 2015 on proposed changes to the Boat Safety Scheme (BSS) for holiday and day hire boats, the BSS has published the agreed outcomes and actions. Most of the proposed changes had maintained stakeholder support through the consultation and so they will be implemented as set out in the consultation, with the main exception that in taking account of the weight and extent of the comments received, it has been decided to implement the revised BSS hire boat requirements from April 2017, 12 months later than proposed in the consultation.

Graham Watts, the BSS manager said: “We want to thank all the contributors to the consultation and to the earlier Hirer Safety Review. Your comments and views have been immensely valuable in refining and improving the existing out-dated BSS Standards.

“Although the navigation authorities are reasonably pushing back the implementation date, because risks have been exposed by the review, hire operators are urged to adopt the new requirements as soon as practical in the time leading up to the implementation date.

“The BSS will publish the detailed checks as soon as we can to support this recommendation.”

Existing 2002 non-private BSS certificates on hire boats will continue to be recognised until they expire, but this is in the expectation that all hire craft will meet the new revised requirements from April 2017.

Other items that raised comments in the consultation were for a) crew area and limitation labels; b) for the slip resistant surfaces on those outside crew areas and c) for signs or indicators of the area where there is a risk of being knocked overboard by an uncontrolled swing of a narrowboat’s tiller arm.

Crew areas
Regarding crew areas and labels the BSS wanted to clarify that ‘crew areas’ would be defined by the hire boat operator and that any signage is there to support the handover process by acting as a reminder of the instructions given while the boat is out on hire.

The role of the BSS Examiner will be to assess the condition of the sign to ensure it remains in place and legible.

Concerns were raised regarding the extent of the slip-resistant surface and the need for an objective assessment of the provision and the surface treatment condition.

The extent of the slip-resistant surface will be established by the hire operator when determining the crew area. Detailed information on the checking procedures will be published as soon as possible and the BSS remains confident that any finalised check will allow for both, consistent application at BSS examination and for operators to easily self-assess their boats for compliance.

The BSS accepted there needed to be clarification that the requirement regarding tiller arm swing warning would only apply to narrowboats and would not apply to yachts.

The BSS will also ensure the alternative compliance option for a warning sign in sight of the helm position is clearly promoted as it appears that the choice may have been overlooked by many respondents.

Critically, the application of both proposed requirements on crew area labels and slip resistant surfaces will depend on the outcomes from a forthcoming consultation by the Association of Inland Navigation Authorities (AINA)/British Marine (BM)/Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) on their proposals regarding the review and implementation of their Hire Boat Code, it is expected later this year and with the outcomes made available soon afterwards.

The BSS will be publishing the new and amended checks in detail in April 2016 on its website. And It will be asking navigation authorities and trade associations to help make the hire boat operators they are in contact with aware of the new information.

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