The objectives of safety regulations are to identify the relevant risks in the subject areas and establish proper safety measures in order to maintain such risks at acceptable levels. In this regard, maritime safety regulations such as SOLAS and Load Line Conventions have played a key role in achieving such objectives. However, the SOLAS Convention, for example, as the representative maritime safety regulation has been numerously amended and expanded so far resulting in non-systematic and irrational distribution of safety requirements over different Chapters, Codes and Resolutions according to safety subjects and ship types, etc. In addition, the SOLAS Convention has maintained the regulations largely in its prescriptive form and thus making it overly prescriptive and resulting in lack of justification and transparency. Also, the current regulations in many cases do not properly and timely reflect the technical advances and changing environments in the maritime sector. Due to these reasons, the development and the implementation of the requirements of the Convention has become increasingly difficult and, therefore, it is considered high time that a new holistic and system-based regulatory framework for the formulation of safety regulations need to be developed and adopted to make the maritime safety regulations more transparent and sustainable and effectively implementable.
In order to devise a feasible regulatory framework model, this study firstly reviewed the characteristics of safety regulations such as the concept of minimum requirement, the implications of safety regulations in terms of strategic, commercial and technical aspect, corelation between the hardware requirements and operational measures, possible conflict between safety requirements and environment protection requirements. The review aimed to identify the issues that need to be bear in mind when devising the rule making framework model in order to make it most effective in the development and implementation of the safety regulations.
As a second step, various regulatory processes currently being used in IMO as well as the engineering analysis methodologies being used in the safety critical industry sectors were investigated and analysed for possible adoption as a rule making process. The more advanced rule making processes than prescriptive regulations such as Formal Safety Assessment(FSA), risk-based regulations, Goal-based standards, etc. were closely examined including their merits, demerits, applicable areas, limitations and co-relations among themselves. The review aimed to identify appropriate rule making methodologies that are to be included in a future regulatory framework model.
Thirdly, the major factors that need to be considered in the process of rule making were further reviewed and analysed. The issues of importance to be considered during regulatory process include identification of hazards(and risks) involved and required safety level, balance between hardware and operational requirements, multi-stage approval concept in contrast to final stage approval, new safety concerns on cyber enabled shipboard complex systems, consideration of human element, regulatory impact assessment and measures to reduce the administrative burdens. For some factors identified such as human element and shipboard complex cyber systems, the possible ways to incorporate these factors into the safety regulations were also devised and proposed by linking them with available regulatory processes that were investigated during the second stage.
In this study, the risk assessment on the current maritime safety regulations was conducted, taking the SOLAS Convention as an example object of the assessment. The assessment of regulatory risk followed the procedures of FSA. In each step of the FSA process, the group of experts comprising of 15 people having experiences more than 10 years in the fields of ship operation, regulatory process, approvals, risk analysis, human element, etc. participated in the technical workshops. The various regulatory processes and the major factors that are to be considered during the process as were identified during the second and third stage respectively were used as base material for the technical workshops. The group also reviewed the status of current SOLAS Convention in terms of distributions of different regulations, regulatory methodologies employed and major factors reflected in the regulations. As a result of this risk assessment, the expert group were able to identify regulatory hazards of SOLAS and associated effects and control measures for such risks. Cost-benefit analysis were carried out for each risk control option. Through this process, it was confirmed that the regulatory processes as risk control measures utilizing more advanced methodologies such as risk-based approaches and goal-based approaches were very effective in removing or reducing the risks that are found in the current SOLAS. The list of 21 risk control options(RCOs) were finally recommended for further consideration as regulatory processes.
As a final step, based on the RCOs recommended from the risk assessment, a new framework model “Safety Performance-Based Model as the Holistic Regulatory Formulation Framework for Maritime Safety Regulations” was devised and proposed. As schematically outlined in Fig.13 of Chapter 6, the new regulatory framework model basically employs three Goal-Based methodologies for the application selectively as rule making processes in general. In addition, the model employs “GBS – Principle-Based methodology” developed for the rule formulation of complex shipboard equipment, systems and software programme in lieu of other three GBS methodologies. This process can be substituted by “GBS – Simplified Risk-Based Approach”for such equipment and systems. The five approaches used in the model are all five-tier-structured performance-based standards, compliances of which are to be confirmed on the principle of safety performance equivalency in contrast to technical equivalency as in the case of prescriptive regulations. The flow of work, applicable tools and checklist that are to be used in each step of the respective process employed in the new framework model were also developed to facilitate the practical application of the model as provided in Table 14 of Chapter 6 and Appendix 2.
In addition, as an example application of the new model, the ways for restructuring of the current SOLAS Convention were developed and proposed. The proposal contains 9 steps to take from the identification of areas to be covered by the Convention to the monitoring and revision of goals, functional requirements and regulations(Fig. 14).
Finally, Chapter 7 summarized findings and conclusions from this study and anticipated difficulties in realizing the proposed framework model and further studies that are considered necessary. In the absence of a comprehensive report dealing with the formulation of maritime safety regulations, it is hoped and expected that the result of this study can be used as a useful tool for the regulators in IMO and national maritime safety Administrations, class rule developers, etc. in setting a sound, robust and transparent maritime regulatory regime.