Development of the ISM Code
A number of very serious accidents which occurred during the late 1980's, were manifestly caused by human errors, with management faults also identified as contributing factors.
Lord Justice Sheen in his inquiry into the loss of the Herald of Free Enterprise famously described the management failures as "the disease of sloppiness".
At its 16th Assembly in October 1989, IMO adopted resolution A.647(16), Guidelines on Management for the Safe Operation of Ships and for Pollution Prevention.
The purpose of these Guidelines was to provide those responsible for the operation of ships with a framework for the proper development, implementation and assessment of safety and pollution prevention management in accordance with good practice.
The objective was to ensure safety, to prevent human injury or loss of life, and to avoid damage to the environment, in particular, the marine environment, and to property. The Guidelines were based on general principles and objectives so as to promote evolution of sound management and operating practices within the industry as a whole.
The Guidelines recognised the importance of the existing international instruments as the most important means of preventing maritime casualties and pollution of the sea and included sections on management and the importance of a safety and environmental policy.
After some experience in the use of the Guidelines, in 1993 IMO adopted the International Management Code for the Safe Operation of Ships and for Pollution Prevention (the ISM Code) and the Code became mandatory in 1998.