Roll Out of Core BSS Examination Checking Procedures 2021

Review version of the BSS Examination Checking Procedures


Further Information

By means of additional support, we have published all the relevant documentation on this page

The first seven pages of this documents is essential reading because they outline the review process adopted and explain the outcomes.

During this year, Examiner news has been mentioning the review of the core BSS Examination Checking Procedures (ECP) and the forthcoming adoption of the new ECP this Autumn.

This week, you have or will be receiving an uncontrolled interim review version of the ECP and the training module introducing the ECP has been released by The Bratton Group to you on the Examiner Community My Training tab. Our pass hint is, use the document: ‘ The Interim Review of the BSS Examination Checking Procedures – Every Change Explained’

You will be using this new version ECP in the field from 28 September, until then, it is available to help you with the training module and for your digestion and appreciation.

The ECP sets out how the BSS Requirements are to be applied during BSS Examinations on privately owned and privately managed vessels and the relevant checks of the Hire Boat Requirements 2017.

It is very important that everyone understands that no new technical standards or requirements are being introduced*. Boats that comply on the 27 September 2021 will comply on 28 September 2021 and it is very important that BSS Examiners do not represent this revision as a ‘change introducing new rules’.

Indeed, while there are a handful of slight relaxation of the BSS Requirements or the addition of further compliance options, the vast majority of changes are editorial or process changes that will help everyone’s understanding and application of the BSS Checks, whether they are BSS Examiners, boat owners or members of the marine industry.

The Background – How it happened

The interim review task began in 2019 and the aims were limited to:

  1. ensuring that the published ECP support the consistent application of the Checks by BSS Examiners; and,
  2. ensuring that training can be effective to deliver an individual’s understanding of BSS Checking actions, Requirements and Applicabilities, whether it is refresher training or for new-entrant Examiners training programme.

In assessing the need to make any interim changes, the following factors were taken into account:

  1. a review of the historic comments, Check-by Check, made by Examiners on the BSS Database. Comments can indicate the level of understanding of the application of the Check; and,
  2. previous recorded discussions at BSS Technical Committee meetings; and,
  3. a review of the technical enquiries received into the BSS Office or collected during BSS Examiner Field Assessments or the new entrant training programme; and,
  4. comments made by Examiners arising during formal investigations alleging poor application of BSS Checks and procedures; and,
  5. information, generally from the marine industry that a specific Check may appear to contravene the way that boats are being built to comply with the Recreational Craft Directive, or that may appear to conflict with a supporting ISO standard; and more recently,
  6. in a need to explain the checks to new entrants, the development of the new BSS Examiner Training Programme learning material also influenced the final changes.

Proposals were accepted or refined at BSS Technical Committee and involved members in a considerable amount of detailed work. A sub-group of BSS Advisory Committee subsequently considered each proposal for change against the following terms of reference:

  • Does each proposed change make sense?
  • Does each proposed change support the aim of the project as set out above?
  • Can each proposed change be applied consistently in the field?
  • Are there any unforeseen consequences associated with each proposed change?

The outline timetable

w/c 13 Sept 2021

Printed copies of the uncontrolled review of the ECP will start appearing at Examiner addresses.

This instruction email is distributed

Support web page goes live

Community help centre content goes live

New ECP online module is released to existing BSS Examiners including knowledge and an assessment against the key changes. 

w/c 20 September 2021

Distribution of 6 months’ supply of the following:

  • Private Boat (Core) Examination Record Form Pads (interim)
  • Hire Boat Requirements Examination Record Form Pads (Interim – to HBR2017 authorised examiners)
  • New Style Hazardous Boat Notification triplicate carbon copy pad and writing shield
  • Package coversheet

Survey monkey response form for BSS Examiners goes live

Information for boat owners and trade is published

28 Sep 2021 – March 2022

Review Version 2021 ECP and Appendices go live – not before.

If a boat has failed an examination

01 Dec 2021

Review Submission Period closes (Survey Monkey Form Closed)

December 2021 – January 2022

All review comments considered at BSS Committees.

February 2022

Final version artwork, production and distribution preparations

March / April 2022

BSSMC sign-off of the ‘controlled document’ version of the revised ECP from Summer 2022

Distribution of controlled version ECPs & Appendices

Bulk stationery 12-month stock distribution including final version of examination record forms.

Impact of the changes

The headlines are that:

  • several technical changes involving a slight relaxation of the BSS Requirements or the addition of further compliance options; and,
  • a large number of purely editorial changes, to help everyone’s understanding of the BSS Checks aiding greater consistency by BSS Examiners and increased compliance by boat owners and assisting the marine trade with understanding of the requirements.
    • Splitting of Checks
    • Merging of Checks
    • Swapping some Check numbers
    • Editing of check text, checking actions, requirements, and appendices
  • An expansion of supporting information in the BSS ECP Appendices from 18 to 78 pages covering processes, procedures and the BSS Checks
  • Deletion of a small number of checks
  • *one additional feature as part of BSS Requirement affecting a very small number of trail-boats (Wilderness Boats) with LPG fridges - Check 8.2.2; owners are being contacted directly via the owners association

There are however a considerable number of significant editorial changes, some involving an equal number of Check number deletions and Check number additions, and many others changing the nature of the previously published.

It follows that BSS Examiners will need a keen understanding of the key changes before the launch date of the revised Checks. This is to ensure that the improved Checks are applied consistently.

It is predicted that the improvements will have a very positive impact on the level of consistency of the application of the Checks by existing BSS Examiners, and will significantly improve the uptake of knowledge and understanding of new-entrant Examiners going through initial training and assessment.

It is not intended that there will be any formal public consultation, because apart from the new checking action and required documentation for ignition protected LPG Fridges on petrol-engined boats (around 70 nationally), there are no new requirements.


While there have been several levels of checking and reviews to get the documents to this stage, with such a complicated process it is almost inevitable that some errors have crept in.

So we appreciate just how eagle-eyed some examiners are and therefore just before the consultation version of these revised Examination Checking procedure goes live, we will open a Survey Monkey feedback form intended for identifying typos, grammar errors, slips and inconsistencies.

Summary and implications

These changes are part of a large number of changes to the ECP splitting of Check actions, swapping some Check numbers, text and information improvements that are designed to result in greater consistency in applying the BSS Checks. These will help everyone’s understanding and application of the BSS Checks, whether they are BSS Examiners, boat owners or members of the marine industry.

However, leading from the improvements in clarity and understanding of the Checks, reinforced with recent extensive training of Examiners, situations could arise where an item may be newly discovered as non-compliant and so could require some adjustments or work to meet compliance and improve safety.

Similarly, the improvements may also address the relatively uncommon situation of any previous over-application the published BSS Requirements.

While not guaranteed, it may help to prevent these scenarios if boat owners are encouraged to talk with their BSS Examiner and prepare well ahead of the examination by assessing their boat against the checks. This may ensure as far as possible the boat is ready for examination, hopefully pass first time and prevent unwelcome news and a potential return visit. We have helpful advice here.

Following a public consultation, the changes also saw the introduction of two increased BSS Requirements and 20 relaxations arising through lessening of some requirements or expanding potential compliance options.

Full details of the results of the public consultation on this page [LINK]