IMPA safety campaign on pilot ladders reveals ongoing persistent non-compliance

IMPA Safety Campaign on pilot ladders highlights there is still a lot of work to do
IMPA Safety Campaign on pilot ladders highlights there is still a lot of work to do

This year’s International Maritime Pilots’ Association (IMPA) Safety Campaign on pilot ladders highlights there is still a lot of work to do as the requirements of SOLAS regulation V/23 (Pilot transfer arrangements), its associated IMO Assembly resolutions, and the ISO 799 series standards are considered as the bare minimum requirement and not an aspirational target according to IMPA.

The IMPA publishes and shares the results of its Safety Campaign annually. Ports and pilotage providers are requesting information from ships on the age and certification of their pilot ladder. IMPA is aware of reports of pilots refusing to board ships due to non-compliance with SOLAS regulations and non-conformities with ISO standards. IMPA said, “The courage shown by pilots and ports in rejecting ships with non-compliant pilot transfer arrangements is to be admired.”

All pilot ladder issues can be fixed easily and cheaply says IMPA and the association welcomes the proactive approach of some ship owners to pilot transfer safety. Policies and procedures relating to the modification of trap-door arrangements, and giving pilot ladders a finite service life are actions which IMPA also applauds.

Treating pilot ladders as safety critical consumable items with a finite service life is a necessary step forward. It is in the interests of maritime pilots and shipboard personnel to make the maintenance of pilot transfer arrangements as simple as possible. Pilots report that the crews they interact with say consistently they are busy people with conflicting priorities and time pressure. Repairing pilot ladders as a matter of routine onboard ships is now a traditional aspect of seamanship that really should be considered a last resort. Replacement is the most effective form of maintenance.

IMPA advises shipowners to support their personnel by implementing time-based replacement of pilot ladders and associated equipment. Company procedures contained in approved safety management systems should be clear and effective, at least reflect the latest IS0 799 series standards, and emphasise timely replacement. Far better to replace safety critical equipment too early than a minute too late.

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