Safety and environmental work

  • 20.04.2015
  • 15:45

Management must be aware that they are role models for developing safety work and the work environment.

Dedicated safety representatives are important ambassadors for the safety input and they contribute to influencing attitudes and wanted behavior. Safety representatives shall, together with the affected parties, be involved in the development of procedures and instructions, take part in safety rounds and in making decisions for instance regarding purchase of protective equipment.

All vessels with 3-7 workers on board shall select a safety representative, unless the majority of workers decide that the safety and environmental work on board can be ensured without an appointed safety representative. On all vessels with more than 7 workers on board, a safety representative is required, as well as a work environment committee. The work environment committee shall be composed of the safety representative, the master, the chief engineer, the steward and perhaps a safety officer.


It is the responsibility of the master to make sure that safety and environmental work is ensured on board. The role of the safety representative is to safeguard the interests of workers in matters relating to the working environment on board, as well as to ensure that work on board is carried out in such a way that due consideration is given to the safety and health of the workers.

The work environment committee shall monitor closely the development of the work environment and in that respect concern itself with matters relating to the health and welfare of the workers, review risk assessments in order to evaluate if these are sufficient for identifying the dangers workers are exposed to, review reports on accidents and sick leave in order to discuss proposals for preventive measures, etc.

Mixing up roles; safety representative and employee representative

Many tend to mix the role as safety representative with the role as employee representative. However, these two roles have completely different functions. Whereas the role of the safety representative is to ensure the safety and health of the workers on board, it is the responsibility of the employee representative to safeguard the workers’ rights with regards to contracts, wage agreements, personnel matters, wage disputes, etc. In cases where such matters arise due to working environment, or have consequences for the working environment, the safety representative may participate in parts of the discussions.


The shipowner shall ensure that safety representatives and members of the working environment committee are given the training necessary for them to carry out their duties in a satisfactory manner, cf. Regulation of 2005-01-01 No. 08 concerning the working environment, health and safety of workers on board ship, chapter 5, § 5-14 (NMA website).

If your shipping company would like to arrange a course for safety representatives and members of the working environment committee, read more about this in Veileder for kursinnhold (pdf).

Read more about Safety and environmental work (pdf).