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Is More PPE Awareness Needed in the Marine Sector?

Is More PPE Awareness Needed in the Marine Sector?

In September 2019, the first amendment was made to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s MSN 1870 (M+F) Merchant Shipping Notice. The amendment focused almost exclusively on updates to the existing safety standard for merchant shipping and fishing vessels. The question is, what has sparked the need for the notice to be amended?

Exploring Risk Among Seafarers

The marine sector has some of the highest rates of occupational accidents across all industries, and shockingly reports have found that a failure to use the correct personal protective equipment (PPE) both onboard a vessel and while in port accounts for around one quarter of all occupational accidents in the marine sector. This is more accidents than are caused by haste, and through presence in dangerous areas.

The latest research to be published actually suggests that only 4% of seafarers claim not to have received the necessary PPE training to conduct their jobs safely. While this may seem like a very small figure, it is believed that those 4% who have not received appropriate training are one third more likely to experience some form of accident.

Of all considered aspects, the report concludes that proper PPE training and better availability of necessary workwear holds the highest potential to minimise risk and reduce the number of accidents that seafarers and marine workers are involved in. This is understood to be a prime factor contributing towards the notice amendment.

Suitable PPE for seafarers and those working in the marine industry includes:

  • Head and face coverings
  • Ear protection
  • Eye protection
  • Foot protection
  • Gloves
  • Respiratory protective equipment

Some workers may also be required to have protection against drowning, and protection against hypothermia. However, the exact PPE required will depend upon the risks that have been identified through a thorough risk assessment for each role.


So who’s responsible for ensuring the new guidelines are adhered to? As with most sectors and industries, responsibility lies with the employer. According to the updated merchant shipping notice, it is the responsibility of ‘ship owners and employers to ensure that personal protective equipment (PPE) is provided for seafarers and other workers who are engaged in, or at risk from a hazardous work activity on board a United Kingdom ship’. The rule also applies to internationally-registered ships in UK waters. Essential PPE must also be provided to workers free of charge if needed onboard. Browse the Wearwell range of workwear here.

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