New Code of Conduct Created to Improve Crew Welfare Issues


A new initiative is being developed to provide a uniform code of conduct and assessment tool for shipowners, operators, and charters. This new Code of Conduct builds on the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) Maritime Labor Convention (MLC) to provide a more comprehensive standard for the industry and its employees. The Code of Conduct originally was conceived as a tool for the industry to demonstrate its commitment to seafarers’ welfare and to provide greater transparency.

The project is spearheaded by the Sustainable Shipping Initiative (SSI) and the Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB), in collaboration with the Rafto Foundation for Human Rights and RightShip, and with expert input from Forum for the Future, Louis Dreyfus Company, Oldendorff Carriers, South32, Standard Chartered Bank, Swire Shipping, and Wilhelmsen Ship Management.

Based on international labor and human rights standards, the Code of Conduct and self-assessment was created after over eight months of collaboration and input between shipowners, operators, charterers, cargo owners, seafarers’ associations, civil society, and others, with the combined goal of supporting a safe, healthy, and secure onboard work environment. “The global pandemic brought seafarers’ rights firmly into focus, with many crews forced to endure exceptionally difficult conditions to keep global supply chains and trade freely flowing,” notes Frances House, Deputy Chief Executive at IHRB. “We expect a great deal from them {seafarers], and it’s only right that they expect an adequate standard of care, conditions, and quality from us. This is a proud, vital industry that depends on people to keep sailing.”

“This Code of Conduct and self-assessment will help build a platform to respect worker dignity while advancing industry progress. We look forward to widespread engagement from industry stakeholders everywhere.”

To encourage the Code of Conduct’s utilization across the industry, RightShip has launched an online self-assessment tool, which it developed in collaboration with SSI and IHRB. This free and confidential survey provides practical guidance on applying the Code of Conduct, helping shipowners and operators understand their responsibilities while assessing current operations, and encouraging operators to work with their teams to explore the areas of improvement.

The Code of Conduct may be downloaded here:

We at the Herd Law Firm have been working and advancing the interests and rights of seafarers for two decades. We strongly support proper training, safe operations, adequate staffing and rest, good and timely healthcare and assessments, and other measures to ensure the work-life at sea is safe and productive.

If you or a loved one has been mistreated, injured or made ill from your work or exposure aboard a vessel or ship, we would be pleased to discuss your rights and remedies, free of charge.

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