Pilot Ladder Safety

Pilot Ladder Safety – Do It Right The First Time. Every day around the world, maritime pilots board and disembark ships using pilot ladder arrangements. When the pilotladder is not used properly, a routine procedure can turn into a critical hazard . There are some very good reasons for using the pilot ladder in the correct way: The safety of the pilot and the structural integrity of the pilot ladder.

Pic: Capt. Ed Enos

The aim of this website is to increase Pilot Ladder Safety awareness by showing good practice on the rigging and safe use of the pilot ladder. Through this site, by sharing information, news and feedback about good practice, we can raise the standards of Pilot Ladder Safety – Do It Right The First Time.

If you are interested in sharing your ideas or feedback, don’t hesitate to contact me on info@pilotladdersafety.com

Do it right the first time!

For every ship there is a different way to rig the ladder properly, due to the nature of its construction. For every ship there is also one way to do it right. 

There is a lot that can be improved here

Regulations and guidelines regarding Pilot Ladder safety

Pilot ladder safety is a chain-like system of regulations, recommendations, industry standards and procedures. If any of these links is broken, the safety as a system fails with possible fatal consequences.

Regulations – Recommendations – Standards – Procedures

One could argue that, apart from the SOLAS Convention, the recommendations, standards and procedures regarding pilot ladders are non-mandatory. However, with the links and references made in SOLAS, IMO 1045 and the ISM code, this website is using these four different links in the pilot ladder safety chain as the legal framework on this subject:

1. Solas convention CH V Reg 23 : Regulations regarding Pilot Transfer Arrangements.

The SOLAS Convention in its successive forms is generally regarded as the most important of all international treaties concerning the safety of merchant ships. The first version was adopted in 1914, in response to the Titanic disaster, the second in 1929, the third in 1948, and the fourth in 1960. The 1974 version includes the tacit acceptance procedure – which provides that an amendment shall enter into force on a specified date unless, before that date, objections to the amendment are received from an agreed number of Parties.

As a result the 1974 Convention has been updated and amended on numerous occasions. The Convention in force today is sometimes referred to as SOLAS, 1974, as amended.

Technical provisions:

The main objective of the SOLAS Convention is to specify minimum standards for the construction, equipment and operation of ships, compatible with their safety. Flag States are responsible for ensuring that ships under their flag comply with its requirements, and a number of certificates are prescribed in the Convention as proof that this has been done. Control provisions also allow Contracting Governments to inspect ships of other Contracting States if there are clear grounds for believing that the ship and its equipment do not substantially comply with the requirements of the Convention – this procedure is known as port State control. The current SOLAS Convention includes Articles setting out general obligations, amendment procedure and so on, followed by an Annex divided into 14 Chapters. (Source: IMO.org)

In SOLAS 2.3, reference is made to ISO 799-1 as a standard for pilot ladders.

2. IMO resolution 1045(27). Recommendation on Pilot Transfer Arrangements

These are recommendations covering the technical detail of pilot transfer arrangements which were adopted in November 2011 and replace IMO Resolution A.889(21).

In IMO 1045(27) Article 2 reference is made to ISO 799-1.

3. ISO 799-1 Ships and marine technology – Pilot ladders – Part 1: Design and specification .

ISO (the International Organization for Standardization) is a worldwide federation of national standards bodies (ISO member bodies). The work of preparing International Standards is normally carried out through ISO technical committees. Each member body interested in a subject for which a technical committee has been established has the right to be represented on that committee. International organizations, governmental and non-governmental, in liaison with ISO, also take part in the work. ISO collaborates closely with the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) on all matters of electrotechnical standardization.

This document is intended to supplement existing IMO requirements for pilot ladders. Since IMO instruments do not include specific requirements for prototype testing of pilot ladders for approval, the tests included in this document are in excess of the existing IMO requirements. The reservation and inclusion of these tests was considered necessary in order to provide a means of ensuring conformance of pilot ladders with the performance requirements prescribed in IMO instruments and in this document.This document can be used for independent acceptance of a pilot ladder complying with SOLAS, in which case certification must be issued from a signatory state of SOLAS.

NOTE ISO 799 is incorporated by reference and footnoted in the International Convention on Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Chapter V Regulation 23.2.3.

This document specifies requirements for pilot ladders of a ship, which are provided to enable a maritime pilot to embark and disembark from a ship safely against a vertical portion of the ship’s hull. It is applicable to merchant ships which embark and disembark maritime pilots with the ship underway. (Source: Iso.org)

4. The International Safety Management (ISM) Code:

The purpose of the ISM Code is to provide an international standard for the safe management and operation of ships and for pollution prevention.

The Assembly had already invited all Governments, by resolution A.443(XI), to take the necessary steps to safeguard the shipmaster in the proper discharge of his responsibilities with regard to maritime safety and the protection of the marine environment.

In resolution A.680(17), the Assembly recognized the need for appropriate organization of management to enable it to respond to the need of those on board ships in order to achieve and maintain high standards of safety and environmental protection.

Recognizing that no two shipping companies or shipowners are the same, and that ships operate under a wide range of different conditions, the Code is based on general principles and objectives, which include assessment of all identified risks to one Company’s ships, personnel and the environment and establishment of appropriate safeguards.

The Code is expressed in broad terms so that it can have a widespread application. Clearly, different levels of management, whether shore-based or at sea, will require varying levels of knowledge and awareness of the items outlined.

The cornerstone of good safety management is commitment from the top. In matters of safety and environment protection it is the commitment, competence, attitudes and motivation of individuals at all levels that determines the end result.(Source: IMO.org)

ISM Code: 1.2.3 The safety-management system should ensure: .1 compliance with mandatory rules and regulations; and .2 that applicable codes, guidelines and standards recommended by the Organization, Administrations, classification societies and maritime industry organizations are taken into account.


IMO resolution A.1045(27) art. 1 and 2 contain the encouragement for ships designers, equipment designers and manufacturers of pilot ladders to provide the users with means to ensure the overall SOLAS goal of: ” All arrangements used for pilot transfer shall efficiently fulfil their purpose of enabling pilots to embark and disembark safely.”

Having ensured that the ship’s design, the equipment design, as well as the pilot ladders are suitable for the intended purpose, and having a Safety Management System in place as per ISM, the question is why so many incidents still happen with pilot ladders, pilot transfers and non compliant ladders. That question cannot easily be answered, but a lot has to do with awareness and training. This website is intended to raise the general awareness about pilot ladder safety.

So what’s a pilot ladder?

Not every ladder that is rigged overboard is a pilot ladder. In ISO 799-1, the main manufacturing and material requirements for a pilot ladder can be found. A ladder conforming to this standard, shall be designated by the code ” Pilot Ladder ISO 799-1 ” – S ( number of steps) – L (length in meters) “. This should be marked on the bottom spreader and the top step. So when it sais ” Embarkation Ladder ” it is NOT a pilot ladder.

For the various pages of this website, the applicable SOLAS requirements are marked in pink.

The applicable IMO 1045(27) resolution recommendations are marked in grey.

The applicable International safety management (ISM)-Code regulations are marked in green.

IMO Resolution A.1045(27)

RECOMMENDATION ON PILOT TRANSFER ARRANGEMENTS

1 GENERAL

Ship designers are encouraged to consider all aspects of pilot transfer arrangements at an early stage in design. Equipment designers and manufacturers are similarly encouraged, particularly with respect to the provisions of paragraphs 2.1.2, 3.1 and 3.3.

2 PILOT LADDERS

A pilot ladder should be certified by the manufacturer as complying with this section or with the requirements of an international standard acceptable to the Organization.1

1 Refer to the recommendations by the International Organization for Standardization, in particular publication ISO 799:2004, Ships and marine technology – Pilot ladders.

SOLAS CH.V reg. 23:

1. Application

1.1 Ships engaged on voyages in the course of which pilots may be employed shall be provided with pilot transfer arrangements.

1.2 Equipment and arrangements for pilot transfer which are installed1 on or after 1 July 2012 shall comply with the requirements of this regulation, and due regard shall be paid to the standards adopted by the Organization 2.

1.3 Except as provided otherwise, equipment and arrangements for pilot transfer which are provided on ships before 1 July 2012 shall at least comply with the requirements of regulation 173 or 23, as applicable, of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974, in force prior to that date, and due regard shall be paid to the standards adopted by the Organization prior to that date.

1.4 Equipment and arrangements installed on or after 1 July 2012, which are a replacement of equipment and arrangements provided on ships before 1 July 2012, shall, in so far as is reasonable and practicable, comply with the requirements of this regulation.

1.5 With respect to ships constructed before 1 January 1994, paragraph 5 shall not apply later than the first survey4 on or after 1 July 2012

1.6 Paragraph 6 applies to all ships.

1 Refer to the Unified interpretation of SOLAS regulation V/23 (MSC.1/Circ.1375).

2 Refer to the Recommendation on pilot transfer arrangements, to be adopted by the Organization

3 Refer to resolution MSC.99(73), renumbering previous regulation 17 as regulation 23, which entered into force on 1 July 2002.

4 Refer to the Unified interpretation of the term “first survey” referred to in SOLAS regulations (MSC.1/Circ.1290).

2. General

2.1 All arrangements used for pilot transfer shall efficiently fulfil their purpose of enabling pilots to embark and disembark safely. The appliances shall be kept clean, properly maintained and stowed and shall be regularly inspected to ensure that they are safe to use. They shall be used solely for the embarkation and disembarkation of personnel.

2.2 The rigging of the pilot transfer arrangements and the embarkation of a pilot shall be supervised by a responsible officer having means of communication with the navigation bridge who shall also arrange for the escort of the pilot by a safe route to and from the navigation bridge. Personnel engaged in rigging and operating any mechanical equipment shall be instructed in the safe procedures to be adopted and the equipment shall be tested prior to use.

2.3 A pilot ladder shall be certified by the manufacturer as complying with this regulation or with an international standard acceptable to the Organization 5. Ladders shall be inspected in accordance with regulations I/6, 7 and 8.2.4 All pilot ladders used for pilot transfer shall be clearly identified with tags or other permanent marking so as to enable identification of each appliance for the purposes of survey, inspection and record keeping. A record shall be kept on the ship as to the date the identified ladder is placed into service and any repairs effected.

2.5 Reference in this regulation to an accommodation ladder includes a sloping ladder used as part of the pilot transfer arrangements.

5 Refer to the recommendations by the International Organization for Standardization, in particular publication ISO 799:2004, Ships and marine technology – Pilot ladders.

ISM Code

 1.2 Objectives 

1.2.1 The objectives of the Code are to ensure safety at sea, prevention of human injury or loss of life, and avoidance of damage to the environment, in particular to the marine environment, and to property. 

1.2.2 Safety-management objectives of the Company should, inter alia: 

.1 provide for safe practices in ship operation and a safe working environment; 

.2 assess all identified risks to its ships, personnel and the environment and establish appropriate safeguards; and 

.3 continuously improve safety-management skills of personnel ashore and aboard ships, including preparing for emergencies related both to safety and environmental protection. 

1.2.3 The safety-management system should ensure: 

.1 compliance with mandatory rules and regulations; and 

.2 that applicable codes, guidelines and standards recommended by the Organization, Administrations, classification societies and maritime industry organizations are taken into account. 

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