Health and Safety

It is an important part of Nautilus International’s role as a trade union to ensure members can work in a safe, healthy environment. If, as a member, you feel you are in danger in your workplace or have a work-related health problem, the Union is here to provide advice and support.

Nautilus also campaigns to improve working conditions throughout the industry, through high-level involvement with national and international legislative bodies and advisory groups. Much of this work is reported in our regular Professional & Technical newsletters, which are available to members.


As is so often the case with the shipping industry, there is a complex web of regulations and jurisdictions to negotiate when determining the legislation and guidance applicable to particular workplaces. The following information should be of help, but Nautilus members are also welcome to contact the Union for advice on these matters.

International Maritime Organisation (IMO)and International Labour Organisation (ILO)

These are the most important legislative bodies for the international shipping industry, and Nautilus works with national delegations and non-governmental organisations to ensure Union members’ interests are reflected in IMO and ILO legislation and guidance.

The IMO is the United Nations specialist agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships.

The ILO Maritime Labour Convention 2006 is arguably the most important piece of international legislation of recent years relating to health and safety. When ratified, it will play a major part in ensuring a safe, healthy working environment for seafarers. Nautilus International is therefore campaigning vigorously for ratification by ILO member states and has an ongoing programme to disseminate information about the Convention and educate stakeholders about its impact.

IMO 27th Assembly| IMO website | Maritime Labour Convention 2006 | ILO website


When seeking information in the UK, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s M-notices should be the first port of call, as these regularly-issued notices report how international conventions have been enacted into UK law, and are the main outlet for issuing official guidance.

M-notice summaries from Nautilus Telegraph |M-notices on MCA website

Guidance from industry bodies

A wide range of health and safety guidance is offered by industry bodies and advisory groups such as the UK Offshore Operators’ Association and the National Maritime Occupational Health and Safety Committee.

This influential committee is comprised of representatives from Nautilus International, the RMT union and the UK Chamber of Shipping. It publishes regular guidelines on how to deal with maritime health and safety issues such as Aids, smoking and violence towards staff.

A good place to find health and safety guidance from UK industry bodies is on the Chamber of Shipping publications list.

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