New MLC amendments on seafarer welfare and safety enter into force

8 January 2019

Nautilus members are reminded that the second set of amendments to the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) for improving crew safety and welfare – agreed in 2016 – have now come into force.

The amendments are comprised of additions to the guidelines of Regulation 4.3. They cover health and safety protection and accident prevention, and entered into force on 8 January 2019. 

Three changes have been made:

(i)  account is to be taken of the latest version of the guidance on eliminating shipboard harassment and bullying (which is jointly published by the International Chamber of Shipping and the International Transport Workers' Federation).

(ii) in addition to the various health and safety matters which the MLC requires should be taken into account, there is added 'harassment and bullying'. 

(iii) to the list of matters which should be considered for investigation in a health and safety context, there is added 'problems arising from harassment and bullying'. 

These changes should help to improve safety onboard, as well as enhancing seafarers' welfare, a subject which has had much attention recently in the form of seminars and discussions.  Although the changes are to the non-mandatory Code B of the MLC, flag states must give due consideration to implementing them.

A further amendment has been made to mandatory Standard A5.1.3, whereby flag states may extend the validity of a Maritime Labour Certificate (which is otherwise limited to a maximum period of validity of five years) by up to a further five months.  This will apply where a ship has successfully completed an MLC renewal inspection, but a new certificate cannot immediately be issued and made available onboard.


Nautilus members should check the specific implementation provisions of their flag state.  The UK’s MCA has not yet published specific implementation provisions, but these will be made known to members by the Union when they are available.

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