The BSS & Examiners

How would you described the BSS to your customers. This section is for you and your customers.

Have you heard these questions before, '…why do I need my boat examined?' or '… '… what are advice checks?' or '… why don't you want to see my lifejackets?'.

Knowing the answers and dispelling the myths will help ensure your customers understand the responsibilities they have to meet BSS compliance and keep themselves safe.

The answers provided in this section of the website will also help cement the BSS Examiner's place in the world

The Boat Safety Scheme is a public safety initiative wholly owned by the Canal & River Trust and the Environment Agency but in the eye of the beholder it can be any and all of the following:

  • it is the BSS Requirements; and/or,
  • it is the BSS Certification; and/or,
  • it is the BSS Office administration; and/or,
  • it is the independent examiners who examine boats.

… but how does the BSS hang together…?

The BSS & Examiners -  How the BSS is run

The day to day operation of the BSS is run by a small BSS Office Team.

All significant decisions including those about new BSS requirements, the need for BSS safety awareness initiatives or the cost of BSS Certifications are made by the BSS Management Committee, who call upon the guidance of the two BSS support committees to help them (BSS Advisory Committee and BSS Technical Committee).

All three committees have a mix of members from navigation authorities, the marine trade, boat owners, examiners and the BSS Office Team

Examiners are well represented on the support committees through practitioner organisations, but if you are not a member of an examiner body then you can have your policy views represented directly by writing to the BSS Manager.

The BSS Office Team helps the support committees with technical and secretarial facilities and work hard to ensure the outcomes from committee involvement meet BSS objectives balances the needs and meets the expectations of the three key customer-groups; namely, the Navigation Authorities, the BSS Examiners and the boat owners affected by the Scheme.

Read more about how the BSS works in the Navigation Authority Agreement. This document covers:

•effective and efficient decision making,

•more information about the BSS committees;

•BSS performance objectives and the focus on continual improvement by improving the Core Processes.

It is entirely appreciated that BSS Examiners are essential to the success of the BSS

Navigation Authority Agreement [LINK]

The BSS & Examiners - How the BSS is run

The Boat Safety Scheme is not a company, in fact it is not a legal entity at all, 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 and the Environment Agency.  For the time being Canal & River Trust is the administrating Navigation Authority for the BSS.

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 ECPs and mirrored for boat owners in the BSS Essential Guide.  Because the purpose of the Scheme is to minimise the risks to visitors, waterways workers, neighbours and tenants, nearly all of the mandatory BSS Checks address the potential risks associated with fire and explosion and so it becomes clear that other areas of boat safety such as lifejackets or hull integrity are outside of the Scheme's scope.

The BSS operates a verification service to those Checks. BSS Examiners are in place carry out BSS Examinations and so help the Navigation Authorities assess whether any given boat meets their minimum acceptable standards.  A BSS examination at least once every four years is seen as a good audit of a boat's condition throughout its life.

The BSS & Examiners - What is the BSS

The Boat Safety Scheme is not a company, in fact it is not a legal entity at all, 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 Canal & River Trust) and the National Rivers Authority (now the Environment Agency).  For the time being the Canal & River Trust is the administrating Navigation Authority for the BSS.

The purpose of the BSS is to help minimise the risks to all visitors to the waterways and the waterways' workforce, and to help protect adjacent property, as it is to these parties that the Navigation Authorities duties in law.  Without these duties there would not be a Boat Safety Scheme.

The remit of the BSS is only related to the condition, equipment and use of boats and the Navigation Authorities employ, through the BSS two broad approaches to meet the BSS purpose in respect of privately owned and managed boats.

Firstly, the BSS supports the Navigation Authorities by helping identify, monitor and develop their minimum legal safety requirements. These minimum legal safety requirements are the BSS General Requirements referred to in the ECPs and they are expressed in goal-setting terms.

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 ECPs and mirrored for boat owners in the BSS Essential Guide.  Because the purpose of the Scheme is to minimise the risks to visitors, waterways workers, neighbours and tenants, nearly all of the mandatory BSS Checks address the potential risks associated with fire and explosion and so it becomes clear that other areas of boat safety such as lifejackets or hull integrity are outside of the Scheme's scope.

The BSS operates a verification service to those Checks. BSS Examiners are in place carry out BSS Examinations and so help the Navigation Authorities assess whether any given boat meets their minimum acceptable standards.  A BSS examination at least once every four years is seen as a good audit of a boat's condition throughout its life.

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 to assist owners identify and control the risks for which they have a responsibility - this means risks associated with carbon monoxide poisoning and electrocution.  ‘Advice Checks’ are included in this approach.

Since 2005 the BSS has been led by detailed risk review including drawing from incident data and it is clear from the known causes of incidents that owner behaviour, or 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.