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MLC 2006 Regulation 4.3 - Seafarer Health and Safety Protection and Accident Prevention to Ensure that the Work Environment On Board Ships Promotes Occupational Safety and Health (with 2016 Amendment - Shipboard Harassment and Bullying)

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MLC 2006 Regulation 4.3 deals with health and safety protection and accident prevention of seafarers. The MLC 2006 contains a significant number of technical details and guidance in Standard A4.3 and Guideline B4.3 directed to flag State obligations regarding what is usually called marine or maritime occupational safety and health (MOSH).

These provisions are also linked to those under Section 3.1 of these model provisions. The MLC, 2006 specifies the areas in which occupational safety and health policies and programs are to be adopted, effectively implemented and promoted on ships and which are also to be the subject of legal standards covering occupational safety and health protection and accident prevention.

It is noted that a number of matters may also overlap to some extent with requirements under the IMO’s ISM Code and may already be partly implemented. The Convention requires that legal implementation of the requirements take the form of laws and regulations and other measures.

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MLC 2006 Regulation 4.3 Health and Safety Protection and Accident Prevention for Seafarers (Summary)


Purpose: To ensure that seafarers’ work environment on board ships promotes occupational safety and health



  • You are entitled to live and work in a safe and hygienic environment where a culture of safety and health is actively promoted.
  • Safety and health on board has to be regulated by the laws of the Flag State, taking into account international standards.
  • You have to have the following on board:
    • A health policy and program, including risk evaluation and training
    • Precautions to prevent accidents, injuries and the spread of disease, including the effects of handling chemicals and the use of machinery and equipment on board
    • Involvement of seafarers’ representatives in programs to improve occupational safety and health and accident prevention
    • A process for inspecting, reporting and correcting unsafe conditions and for investigating and reporting on-board accidents (ref. ILO ‘Accident prevention on board ship at sea and in port’, 1996)
    • Investigation and reporting must ensure that your personal data is protected
  • Seafarers and shipowners have an obligation to comply with standards set for occupational safety and health on board; these must be clearly specified along with the duties of the Captain or the person made responsible by the Captain for safety and health on board; Your attention must be drawn to any safety regulation or procedures to be followed on board and information should be clearly posted. There should also be ongoing publicity campaigns advising on health protection and accident prevention.

If you are on a ship with five or more seafarers, you have to have a seafarers’ safety representative elected or appointed by the crew to participate in the ship’s safety committee

  • There are international standards that set out requirements on acceptable levels of exposure to workplace hazards as well as how to develop and put into practice ships’ occupational safety and health policies. The MLC doesn’t specify details; instead it sets out what matters have to be addressed in the flag State regulations. It is the shipowners’ responsibility to put them into practice.

seafarer safety health
      Picture: What should be covered by occupational safety and health procedures and practice on board?  Credits: ITF

  • Young seafarers should not be expected to carry out high risk work without supervision, or night work unless for training purposes.

Title 4. Health Protection, Medical Care, Welfare and Social Security Protection

Regulation 4.3; Code Standard A4.3 and Guideline B4.3


MLC 2006 Regulation 4.3 - Health and Safety Protection and Accident Prevention

Purpose: To ensure that seafarers’ work environment on board ships promotes occupational safety and health
  1. Each Member shall ensure that seafarers on ships that fly its flag are provided with occupational health protection and live, work and train on board ship in a safe and hygienic environment.
  2. Each Member shall develop and promulgate national guidelines for the management of occupational safety and health on board ships that fly its flag, after consultation with representative shipowners’ and seafarers’ organizations and taking into account applicable codes, guidelines and standards recommended by international organizations, national administrations and maritime industry organizations.
  3. Each Member shall adopt laws and regulations and other measures addressing the matters specified in the Code, taking into account relevant international instruments, and set standards for occupational safety and health protection and accident prevention on ships that fly its flag.

Standard A4.3 - Health and Safety Protection and Accident Prevention

  1. The laws and regulations and other measures to be adopted in accordance with Regulation 4.3, paragraph 3, shall include the following subjects:
    1. the adoption and effective implementation and promotion of occupational safety and health policies and programmes on ships that fly the Member’s flag, including risk evaluation as well as training and instruction of seafarers;
    2. reasonable precautions to prevent occupational accidents, injuries and diseases on board ship, including measures to reduce and prevent the risk of exposure to harmful levels of ambient factors and chemicals as well as the risk of injury or disease that may arise from the use of equipment and machinery on board ships;
    3. on-board programmes for the prevention of occupational accidents, injuries and diseases and for continuous improvement in occupational safety and health protection, involving seafarers’ representatives and all other persons concerned in their implementation, taking account of preventive measures, including engineering and design control, substitution of processes and procedures for collective and individual tasks, and the use of personal protective equipment; and
    4. requirements for inspecting, reporting and correcting unsafe conditions and for investigating and reporting on-board occupational accidents.
  2. The provisions referred to in paragraph 1 of this Standard shall:
    1. take account of relevant international instruments dealing with occupational safety and health protection in general and with specific risks, and address all matters relevant to the prevention of occupational accidents, injuries and diseases that may be applicable to the work of seafarers and particularly those which are specific to maritime employment;
    2. clearly specify the obligation of shipowners, seafarers and others concerned to comply with the applicable standards and with the ship’s occupational safety and health policy and programme with special attention being paid to the safety and health of seafarers under the age of 18;
    3. specify the duties of the master or a person designated by the master, or both, to take specific responsibility for the implementation of and compliance with the ship’s occupational safety and health policy and programme; and
    4. specify the authority of the ship’s seafarers appointed or elected as safety representatives to participate in meetings of the ship’s safety committee. Such a committee shall be established on board a ship on which there are five or more seafarers.
  3. The laws and regulations and other measures referred to in Regulation 4.3, paragraph 3, shall be regularly reviewed in consultation with the representatives of the shipowners’ and seafarers’ organizations and, if necessary, revised to take account of changes in technology and research in order to facilitate continuous improvement in occupational safety and health policies and programmes and to provide a safe occupational environment for seafarers on ships that fly the Member’s flag.
  4. Compliance with the requirements of applicable international instruments on the acceptable levels of exposure to workplace hazards on board ships and on the development and implementation of ships’ occupational safety and health policies and programmes shall be considered as meeting the requirements of this Convention.
  5. The competent authority shall ensure that:
    1. occupational accidents, injuries and diseases are adequately reported, taking into account the guidance provided by the International Labour Organization with respect to the reporting and recording of occupational accidents and diseases;
    2. comprehensive statistics of such accidents and diseases are kept, analysed and published and, where appropriate, followed up by research into general trends and into the hazards identified; and
    3. occupational accidents are investigated.
  6. Reporting and investigation of occupational safety and health matters shall be designed to ensure the protection of seafarers’ personal data, and shall take account of the guidance provided by the International Labour Organization on this matter.
  7. The competent authority shall cooperate with shipowners’ and seafarers’ organizations to take measures to bring to the attention of all seafarers information concerning particular hazards on board ships, for instance, by posting official notices containing relevant instructions.
  8. The competent authority shall require that shipowners conducting risk evaluation in relation to management of occupational safety and health refer to appropriate statistical information from their ships and from general statistics provided by the competent authority.

Guideline B4.3 - Health and Safety Protection and Accident Prevention

Regulation 4.3 Guideline B4.3 PDF

Disclaimer: For general information purpose only - please check with ILO MLC 2006 for the latest requirements and accurate info

LAST UPDATED ON Dec 13, 2019

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