7IMCATechnical developments and operational experience are fundamental to the latest revision of the International Marine Contractors Association's (IMCA) 'Guidance for the safe and efficient operation of remotely operated vehicles' (IMCA R 004 Rev 4). This can be downloaded free of charge from the IMCA website at www.imca-int.com/media/72417/imcar004.pdf or via the home page at www.imca-int.com.

"The guidance provides a pertinent reference document for the safe and efficient offshore operations of remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) and of ROV support systems, and is designed for use by both contractors and clients" explains IMCA's Technical Director, Richard Benzie. "Adoption of, and adherence to, the guidance will contribute to a safe and efficient industry that operates to common standards.

"Our document is not intended to replace experience and competence to successfully conduct ROV operations. It should be the duty of individual contractors to satisfy themselves that all ROV operations are conducted safely and efficiently.

"While it is recognized that safety must never be compromised, recommendations are made for areas where the balance between commercial considerations and safety implications is complex. In particular, clients and contractors need to recognize and accept the importance of providing sufficient qualified personnel to conduct safe operations at all times. This includes periods of routine preventative maintenance, breakdown or repairs when personnel may be exposed to the dangers of high-voltage, high-pressure hydraulic systems, rotating machinery and other potential hazards."

With sections on 'ROV Classification'; 'ROV Tasks'; 'ROV Tools'; Environmental Considerations'; 'ROV Operations'; 'Equipment, Certification and Maintenance'; 'Personnel'; 'Responsibilities'; and a useful glossary of terms and abbreviations, 'Guidance for the safe and efficient operation of remotely operated vehicles' contains guidelines and recommendations that, when combined with manufacturers' instructions and companies' operational procedures/processes, allow for the maintenance of a high level of safety and efficiency across the sector.

The guidance is intended to apply internationally, but it is recognized that some countries will have regulations that require different standards or practices to be followed. Where local or national regulations are more stringent than those in IMCA R 004, they will always take precedence over the IMCA guidance.

"This is a dynamic document and the advice given in it will change with the further development of the industry, indeed the guidance will be reviewed on a regular basis," adds Richard Benzie. "As all our publications are now published online, necessary improvements can be made quickly and easily. We invite anyone with suggested improvements to contact us at imca@imca-int.com so that their suggestions can be considered by the appropriate technical committee.

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