What is the BSS

The Boat Safety Scheme is not a legal entity, it exists by way of a 'collaboration' set up by a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in 1995 between the owners of the Scheme, British Waterways (now the Canal & River Trust) and the National Rivers Authority (now the Environment Agency). For the time being the Canal & River Trust is the administrating body for the BSS.

Its purpose is to help minimise the risk of boat fires, explosions, or pollution harming visitors to the inland waterways, the waterways' workforce and any other users and to help protect adjacent property, as it is to these parties that the Navigation Authorities may have duties in law. The purpose is equally to contribute to the common goal to make the waterways a safe, attractive and pleasant environment for all.

The BSS helps control the hazards which are introduced by boats which have been inadequately constructed or maintained or hazards introduced by boat owners who misuse the boat's equipment. The Navigation Authorities employ, through the BSS two broad approaches in respect of privately owned and privately managed boats.

1. The BSS Examination - Firstly, the BSS supports the Navigation Authorities by helping monitor and develop their minimum safety (legal) requirements. These minimum safety (legal) requirements are the BSS General Requirements referred to in the BSS Essential Guide and they are expressed in goal-setting terms.

Meeting the navigation authorities' minimum legal safety requirements is necessary in order for boat owners to obtain a navigation licence on waterways controlled by those authorities that have adopted the Scheme.

The BSS General Requirements are supported by expected means of compliance in the form of the checks set out in Parts 2 to 9 of the BSS Essential Guide.

Independent and authorised BSS Examiners are in place carry out BSS Examinations and so help the Navigation Authorities assess whether any given boat meets their minimum legal safety standards. A BSS examination at least once every four years is seen as a good audit of a boat's compliant condition throughout its life.

Boats passing the examination are recorded as having a BSS Certificate. Owners will be given a new-look, receipt-style BSS certificate with passed examinations from April 2013. This page explains what is happening. (Existing certificates will continue to support boat registrations until they expire on their fourth anniversary).

2. Awareness raising - Secondly, the BSS employs education, persuasion and promotion of safety to address accepted risks linked to the use of appliances, engines and associated boat systems and fuels. BSS safety information assists owners identify and control the risks for which they have a responsibility - this means risks associated with carbon monoxide poisoning and electrocution. 'Advice checks' carried out by BSS Examiners during the BSS examination are included in this approach.

Since 2005 the BSS has been closely monitoring incident data and it is clear from the known causes of incidents that owner behaviour, maybe due to a lack of awareness, is the main contributory cause of incidents. It follows that promoting safety awareness is the measure most likely to reduce the number of incidents.

 

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