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Improved medical treatment on board vessels

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Improved medical treatment on board vessels

This Directive sets out the responsibilities of the owners and Member States with regard to health and safety on board vessels. It stipulates the precautions to be taken for the different types of vessels and voyages, particularly with regard to antidotes, information and medical training for workers on board, and medical assistance by radio.


Council Directive 92/29/EEC of 31 March 1992 on the minimum safety and health requirements for improved medical treatment on board vessels [See amending acts].


Each Member State shall take the necessary measures to ensure that:

  • every vessel * flying its flag or registered under its plenary jurisdiction always carries on board medical supplies * which meet, in terms of quality, the specifications of Annex II for the category of vessel to which it belongs;
  • the quantities of medicinal products and medical equipment depend on the nature of the voyage, the activities, the cargo and the number of workers *;
  • the contents of the supplies are detailed on a checklist corresponding to the framework laid down in Annex IV;
  • every vessel carries a watertight medicine chest for each of its lifeboats (the contents of these medicine chests must be detailed on the checklist);
  • every vessel of more than 500 gross registered tonnes, with a crew of 15 or more workers and engaged on a voyage of more than three days, has a sick-bay in which medical treatment can be administered;
  • every vessel with a crew of 100 or more workers, engaged on an international voyage of more than three days, has a doctor on board.


Any vessel carrying dangerous substances must have medical supplies including antidotes * (Annex II) appropriate to the danger presented by such substances; in principle, all antidotes are carried on ferry-type vessels, since the nature of the dangerous substances transported on these vessels is not always known well enough in advance. The contents of the supplies must be detailed on a checklist.


The provision and replenishment of the medical supplies are the responsibility of the owner * and are undertaken exclusively at his expense. Responsibility for the management of the supplies lies with the captain. They must be kept in good condition.

Information and training

The Directive provides that the medical supplies must be accompanied by information and training measures to ensure that medical treatment is given correctly:

  • the medical supplies must contain a guide to their use;
  • maritime vocational training must include basic training in medical and emergency measures;
  • the captain and any worker or workers to whom he delegates the use of the medical supplies must receive special medical training in accordance with the general guidelines set out in Annex IV.

Medical consultations by radio

The Member States shall designate centres which hold the necessary data to ensure better emergency treatment for workers. Personal data of a medical nature held by these centres shall remain confidential.

Medical supplies must be inspected annually.

Technical changes to the Annexes shall be adopted by the Commission or, if necessary, the Council, with the assistance of a committee composed of representatives of the Member States.


The purpose of this Directive is to improve medical treatment at sea, since a vessel is a workplace which, on account of its mobility and its geographical isolation, presents heightened risks to the safety and health of the workers on board.

Key terms used in the act

  • Vessel: any vessel flying the flag of a Member State, or registered in a Member State, sea-going or estuary-fishing, excluding inland navigation vessels, warships, pleasure boats and tugs operating in harbour areas (vessels shall be classed in three categories in accordance with Annex I);
  • Medical supplies: medicines, medical equipment and antidotes listed in Annex II;
  • Worker: any person carrying out an occupation on board a vessel, excluding port pilots and shore personnel carrying out work on board a vessel at the quayside;
  • Antidote: a substance used to prevent or treat the harmful effects of the dangerous substances listed in Annex III;
  • Owner: the registered owner or, where appropriate, the demise charterer or manager of a vessel.



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 92/29/EEC



JO L 113 of 30.4.1992

Amending act(s)

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 2007/30/EC



OJ L 165 of 27.6.2007

Last updated: 23.01.2008