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ISGOTT 6 – What’s New?

Read time: 7 minutes

The sixth edition of ISGOTT – the International Safety Guide for Tankers and Terminals – has been published and is being implemented. There will be a grace period for the transition from ISGOTT 5. This means ISGOTT-6 is not yet mandatory in tanker vetting inspections. But in view of the updates, OCIMF (Oil Companies International Marine Forum) does recommend using ISGOTT 6 as soon as possible. So what’s new? In this blog I will discuss the most relevant updates and the benefits from a marine surveyor’s perspective.

ISGOTT was first published in 1978 and has been the proverbial bible on board tankers ever since. Compiling the industry’s best practices, ISGOTT is published by the industry itself. The rapid developments in the industry compelled publishers ICS (International Chamber of Shipping), IAPH (International Association of Ports and Harbors) and OCIMF to revisit the Guide, which now covers the latest thinking on topical issues, ranging from gas detection to alternative and emerging technologies.

The general recommendations have not been changed substantially: they have just been improved. However, the new Guide shows a clear shift from procedures to human factors. Understanding the risks posed by human factors is crucial to safety management.


Safety Management System (SMS)

The changes related to SMSs particularly provide for more information and explanation. Topics include:

  • Permits to work and risk assessment
  • Lockout/Tagout (LO/TO)
  • Stop Work Authority (SWA)

As part of risk management, control of hazardous energy, e.g. in pressurized piping, is dealt with. This is often overlooked after discharge. In addition, the topic of Simultaneous Operations (SIMOPS) addresses the need for assessing the risks of sim ops on board tankers, which may e.g. uncover the need for more personnel or planning to reduce incidents.


Human Factors

A separate chapter has been dedicated to human factors, covering, among other things:

  • Safety Critical Tasks, where humans are the key element to preventing incidents
  • Fatigue detection
  • Training in both technical and leadership competences


Gas detection and enclosed space entry

Again, the human factor plays a pivotal role, as all the crew members should be familiar with the procedures, but aren’t. This means greater explanation of gas evolutions, highlighting the potential hazards, and explanation of instruments and cautions. The Guide covers everything from local atmosphere testing in areas that are difficult to access to rescue drills to reduce response times, and implementation in the SMS.

The extensive enclosed space permit must be checked thoroughly by crew members, as completion of a work permit does not mean operations are safe. Better understanding of equipment and its use, as well as the explanation of the pitfalls should reduce the risk of overlooking issues.


Static Electricity and Hot Work

As static accumulation is an abstract concept, ISGOTT 6 offers information on charge accumulation and release. It also covers precautions and examples.

The risks involved in hot work are obvious to all. A clear flowchart must prevent steps being omitted when planning hot work.


Terminal Information Exchange and Checklists

In addition to information booklets and procedures, the new edition emphasizes the need for ship/shore face-to-face meetings. All the aspects of the operations must be discussed and understood. After all, assuming that the other party understands the risks may result in major incidents.

The bunkering checklist has been divided into various stages, from pre-arrival to post-bunkering checks, and includes LNG procedures. It has evolved from basic information exchange to a comprehensive checklist. Repetitive checks to be carried out at intervals have been separated.

The ship/shore safety checklist (SSSC) too has been divided into various stages. Each stage is to be completed when relevant. Again, repetitive checks have been separated. The checks must be discussed and agreed upon during face-to-face meetings.


Impact on tanker operations

ISGOTT 6 does not bring about significant changes to safe working procedures. The emphasis is on the crew’s safety awareness, offering guidance based on explanation, rather than relying solely on procedures. In view of the implementation of the new and improved safety aspects, the SMS will have to be updated.

I should like to point out that ISGOTT 6 is not, as yet, mandatory for tanker vetting. From the perspective of a marine surveyor, however, I would recommend implementation as soon as possible. The new edition offers practical guidance and elevates safety awareness. ISGOTT 6 supports the crew through improved readability, easy diagrams for planning, and information and explanation. Communication is key and the new guidelines encourage information exchange between ship and shore. It will improve joint safety awareness of the tanker and the terminal, thus mitigating risks and the consequences of incidents. Ensuring health, safety and environmental protection is, after all, the ultimate objective!

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