Regulatory bodies can have an important role in defining standards and requirements which affect safety, security and the environment, both at the organization/company level or at the individual level.

The ships and marine sector provides a good example of what can be achieved over a period of time when appropriate links are maintained between the regulatory body and ISO and IEC Technical Committees.

The main lesson from this example is that the regulatory authority can be provided with continuous representation by ISO and IEC Technical Committees and their work when discussing how standards can help ensure uniform international implementation by industry. This is a good example of active utilization of the ISO and IEC liaison approach with other organizations, which requires long-term commitment, close cooperation and political sensitivity.

Who is involved?

International Maritime Organization (IMO)

International Maritime Organization (IMO) governmental regulation and practices relating to technical matters of all kinds affecting shipping engaged in international trade.  It encourages and facilitates the general adoption of standards in support of its international agreements concerning maritime safety, security, efficiency of navigation and prevention and control of marine pollution from ships.

ISO/TC 8, Ships and marine technology

ISO/TC 8, Ships and marine technology is responsible within ISO for the standardization of design, construction, structural elements, outfitting parts,  equipment, methods and technology and marine environmental matters  which are used in shipbuilding and the operation of ships, comprising sea-going ships, vessels for inland navigation, offshore structures, ship-to-shore interface and all other marine structures subject to IMO requirements. ISO/TC 8 is also responding to other standardization needs in the areas of security and piracy, polar navigation, ship recycling, and lifesaving equipment.

IEC/TC 18, Electrical installations of ships and of mobile and fixed offshore units

IEC/TC 18Electrical installations of ships and of mobile and fixed offshore units is responsible for the electrical installations and equipment on ships and on mobile and fixed offshore units. Its standards form a code of practical interpretation of the requirements of the International Convention on Safety of Life at Sea.  IEC/TC 18 standards foster interchangeability of parts  and ease the selection and procurement of equipment, including cables for transport of energy,  signals and data  by indicating IEC standards of ratings, types,  dimensions, materials, quality and test  methods.

IEC/TC 80, Maritime navigation and radiocommunication equipment and systems

IEC/TC 80Maritime navigation and radiocommunication equipment and systems is responsible for preparing standards for maritime navigation and radiocommunication equipment and systems making use of electrotechnical, electronic, electroacoustic, electro-optical and data processing techniques. Its standards requested by IMO or other regulating body are typically the technical standard that IMO will use as an interpretation of IMO decisions. The suite of shipborne equipment set by IEC/TC 80 must be compatible with shore navigation systems in all IMO signatory countries, thus ensuring that vessels can navigate in their waters.  IEC/TC 80 also addresses requirements for other international bodies, such as the International Association of Lighthouse Authorities (IALA), especially regarding Automatic Identification Systems (AIS) and other systems requiring compatibility with shore navigation systems.

  • Committees

    • ISO/TC 8
      Ships and marine technology
    • IEC/TC 18
      Electrical installations of ships and of mobile and fixed offshore units
    • IEC/TC 80
      Maritime navigation and radiocommunication equipment and systems

How is regulatory cooperation in this field achieved?

By ensuring mutual representation at committee meetings and almost constant communication, these bodies have ensured that marine standards reflect the needs of the regulatory body and avoid any unwanted duplication of work. As well as ensuring representation at each other’s meetings, this sector has also developed other practical steps to facilitate the use of standards in regulations.

When work items are considered to be of mutual interest to IEC/TC 18, IEC/TC 80, ISO/TC 8, and IMO, these items are either requested by IMO or are initiated by the technical committees themselves. The mutual interest is recorded in the Strategic Policy Statements of IEC/TC 18 and IEC/TC 80 and in the Annex of the Business Plan of ISO/TC 8. IMO has confirmed its interest by submitting a number of requests to ISO and the IEC. Many ISO and IEC standards and specifications have become pertinent documents in connection with the regulatory work of IMO.

As an international regulatory body with members comprising national governments, IMO has the capability, through these delegations, to prescribe and define its requirements at all levels. ISO and the IEC play a critical role in saving scarce resources in IMO by providing the industry input and by facilitating the implementation of IMO requirements. This allows maximum focus on the performance requirements by IMO and permits reference to the technical work of non-governmental organizations such as ISO and the IEC. This relationship is thus founded on long-term trust and confidence. It demands awareness of an IMO interest at the earliest stages and a timely response to meet its needs as well as those of industry stakeholders.

This fruitful working relationship, mutual trust and respect is based on years of close understanding. IEC/TC 18 and IEC/TC 80 and ISO/TC 8 have proved that standards can be developed in months, rather than years.  This has made the ISO and the IEC attractive and effective partners for IMO.

Examples by sector Overview
Energy management
To continually improve energy performance and sustain it over time.
Environmental management
To address problems related to climate change, for example.
Food products
To ensure that food is safe for consumption.
Laboratory medicine
To offer an important alternative to prescriptive regulations.
Medical devices
Standards play an important role in allowing the rapid introduction of new medical device technology.
Radio services
IEC/CISPR is responsible for the protection of radio services.
IEC/TC 9 is responsible for the electrical equipment and systems used in railways.
Road vehicles
Work to harmonize worldwide regulations for road vehicles.
Ships and marine technology
Defining standards and requirements that affect safety, security and the environment.
Transport of dangerous goods
How regulatory needs can lead to revisions and improvements in ISO standards.