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Standard for Maritime Safety Culture Best Practices and Assessment Tools


The maritime industry, like most transportation industries, has come to adopt Safety Management Systems (SMS) as the paradigm for effective safety, health and environmental management programs. This includes international requirements stemming from the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) International Management Code for the Safe Operation of Ships and for Pollution Prevention (the ISM Code) as well as many national level requirements.

While there is emerging consensus on what elements constitute a robust SMS, there is little guidance available on measuring and assessing the effectiveness of an SMS.


The Committee on Marine Safety and Human Factors (AW040) encourages research in two areas that will enhance the measurement of maritime safety culture and effectiveness Safety Management Systems.

The first research area is a compilation and documentation of the state of the art of SMS. This will include the identification of essential elements of an SMS as a baseline, as well as identification of SMS best practices.

The second area of research is needed in the area of SMS effectiveness. Development of SMS performance measures (outputs and outcomes) is required to assess not just whether an SMS exists, but whether it is effectively implemented and producing the intended results.


This research can help enhance the safety of the marine Transportation system, by developing methods and protocols to evaluate SMS performance.

Sponsoring Committee:AW040, Marine Safety and Human Factors
Research Period:12 - 24 months
Research Priority:High
Date Posted:09/05/2019
Date Modified:09/06/2019
Index Terms:Safety management, Maritime safety, Safety culture, Best practices, Evaluation and assessment,
Cosponsoring Committees: 
Marine Transportation
Safety and Human Factors

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