Handbook for seafarer medical examiners


This handbook is an important new learning and reference source for those who perform seafarer medical examinations.

Taking valid and fair decisions about whether someone is fit to work at sea can be diffucult.  The person's career and livelihood can depend on it. At the same time poor decisions can lead to risks to the individual from ill-health leading to an medical emergency while at sea, in addition work at sea is demanding and many lives can depend on the effects of health related impairments on the capability and reliability  with which safety critical tasks are performed.

Maritime trade is global and seafarers are recruited world wide. Consistent international approaches to decisions on fitness to work at sea are therefore essential. This handbook aims to support the requirements for seafarer medical certification included in the conventions of the International Labour Organization and International Maritime Organization.

This is a dynamic handbook. Comments on how to improve and extend it will make it more useful in future. Do contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  with any proposals or comments.

Tim Carter, ( Handbook author)
Professor, Norwegian Centre for Maritime Medicine, University of Bergen.
Chief Medical Adviser, United Kingdom Maritime and Coastguard Agency.


The aim of this handbook is:

  • To assist doctors who issue statutory medical fitness certificates for seafarers with their work, both when learning the task and when taking decisions on individual seafarers.
  • To provide detailed advice on how to take decisions on the fitness of seafarers to work at sea that supplements the recommendations in international conventions and guidelines.
  • To explain the knowledge base for decisions on seafarer fitness.
  • To provide information on the risks that the fitness criteria for common conditions aim to prevent.
  • To include those conditions which most commonly lead to problems in decision taking. 

 (Note: web addresses in handbook last accessed 29 04 2013)