If you work in the maritime industry, you may have heard of the term DPA, which stands for Designated Person Ashore. It is a key role for the proper implementation of the Safety Management System (SMS) onboard the vessels, as required by the International Safety Management (ISM) Code. The ISM Code is a set of international standards and guidelines for ensuring the safety of life at sea, preventing marine pollution, and promoting a safety culture among seafarers and shore personnel.
A DPA is a person who is designated by the company to monitor the safe and efficient operation of each ship with regard to the safety and pollution prevention aspects. The DPA also acts as a link between the company and the vessel personnel, ensuring that adequate resources and support are provided. They have direct access to the highest level of management within the company and has the authority to make decisions on safety matters.
The role and responsibilities of a DPA are outlined in Chapter 4 of the ISM Code, as well as in the IMO MSC-MEPC.7/Circ.6 “Guideline for implementation Ashore of the International Safety Management Code (ISM Code) in Shipping Companies”. According to these documents, some of the
Main duties of a DPA
– To establish and maintain an effective SMS that complies with the ISM Code and other relevant rules and regulations.
– To ensure that the SMS is implemented and maintained onboard each vessel and that regular audits and reviews are conducted.
– To verify that all personnel involved in the SMS are qualified, trained, and familiar with their roles and responsibilities.
– To ensure that non-conformities, accidents, incidents, and near-misses are reported, investigated, analyzed, and corrected.
– To ensure that corrective actions and preventive measures are taken to avoid recurrence of problems and to improve performance.
– To ensure that emergency preparedness and response plans are in place and tested periodically.
– To ensure that feedback and communication channels are open and effective between the company and the vessel personnel, as well as with external parties such as flag states, port states, classification societies, insurers, etc.
– To promote a positive safety culture within the company and onboard the vessels, by encouraging participation, consultation, recognition, and continuous improvement.
As you can see, a DPA plays a vital role in ensuring that shipping operations are conducted safely, efficiently, and responsibly. A DPA needs to have adequate knowledge, experience, training, and skills to perform their duties effectively. A DPA also needs to have a strong sense of responsibility, integrity, leadership, communication, teamwork, problem-solving, and decision-making.
If you are interested in becoming a DPA or enhancing your skills as a DPA, there are various courses available that can help you achieve your goals. For example, MITAGS offers a maritime training course that combines the instruction of DPA roles and responsibilities with the disciplinary functions of ISM Code internal auditing. RINA also offers a marine training course that equips the participants with in-depth knowledge and a practical approach to monitoring and verifying safety activities as defined in the ISM Code.
He/She is not only a requirement of the ISM Code but also a valuable asset for any shipping company that strives for excellence in safety management. By fulfilling their role and responsibilities effectively, a DPA can help prevent accidents, reduce risks, protect lives and environment, improve performance, enhance reputation, and ensure compliance.