The BSS was jointly established in 1997 by the Environment Agency and British Waterways (now Canal & River Trust) to promote safety on the inland waterways in respect of boats, their installations and component. Compliance in meeting the schemes minimum safety standard of 31 legal requirements became a condition of obtaining a navigation licence at the same time. Other navigation authorities have since adopted the scheme or are in the process of phasing in the scheme on their waterways. The BSS examination is required once every four years and is used by the navigation authorities to help prevent fires, explosions & pollution and to determine that craft meet the minimum safety requirements of the navigation authorities at all times.
Boating is about fun - and part of the enjoyment is messing about with the boat itself, but it is very important to remember that the safety standards of the BSS are not something that is only of concern to the boater once every four years. It is the owner or operators obligation to maintain the vessel to the BSS minimum safety standards at all times. The BSS publish a range of easy to read online documents and booklets to help owners achieve this goal. The BSS examination should always be considered as an audit of the relevant systems & safety standards that the owner ensures are in place whenever the vessel is in the water. An important point to stress is that BSS examiners are not permitted to offer advice or judgement outside the notes or checks published in BSS guides or documents, so careful consideration should always be given to the information available. More details on this can be found in the ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ section of this website.