The human element is recognized as a key element of the safety of life on board ships and a contributing factor to most of the casualties in the shipping sector. Maritime safety and safety of navigation can be enhanced by strengthening the focus on the human element.
The wide-ranging scope and importance of the human element makes it a shared responsibility of IMO, as the regulatory body; Member States, as implementers; companies, as providers of the necessary resources, safety policies and safety culture; and seafarers, as the individuals who physically operate ships.
The safety and security of life at sea, protection of the marine environment and over 80% of the world's trade depends on the professionalism and competence of seafarers.
The IMO's International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW), 1978 was the first internationally-agreed Convention to address the issue of minimum standards of competence for seafarers. In 1995 the STCW Convention was completely revised and updated to clarify the standards of competence required and provide effective mechanisms for enforcement of its provisions.
A comprehensive review of the STCW Convention and the STCW Code commenced in January 2006, and culminated in a Conference of Parties to the STCW Convention which was held in Manila, Philippines from 21 to 25 June 2010, that adopted a significant number of amendments to the STCW Convention and STCW Code. These amendments, now referred to as the Manila amendments, which provide enhanced standards of training for seafarers, entered into force on 1 January 2012.
In 1997, IMO adopted a resolution setting out its vision, principles and goals for the human element. The human element is a complex multi-dimensional issue that affects maritime safety, security and marine environmental protection involving the entire spectrum of human activities performed by ships' crews, shore-based management, regulatory bodies and others. All need to co-operate to address human element issues effectively.
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