Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Minutes of Evidence


Examination of Witnesses (Questions 540 - 549)

WEDNESDAY 21 MARCH 2001

MR NICK STARLING, MR GRAEME HENDERSON, AND MR BOB MELDRUM

  540. Do you think you have the power to deal with them?
  (Mr Starling) They come under HSWA, the Health and Safety at Work Act.
  (Mr Henderson) There is clearly an issue here, which is precisely why we want to further develop our relationship with the Maritime Coastguard Agency, certainly our Docks Regulations do actually apply to shore based employees, and, therefore, HSE inspectors can enforce in those situations. However, increasingly, there is the use of the crew for unloading ships.

  541. It is the crew for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and the when people come from off the shore to do it then it is your responsibility?
  (Mr Henderson) That is correct. The Memorandum of Understanding does actually set up a degree of flexibility so that people do not fall between that particular gap. The importance of involving MCA in this is precisely because they regulate in terms of safety on ships and the standards of ships. We very much encourage the dock industry to report where substandard ships are. I do know that Felixstowe take a line on this particular issue.

Chairman

  542. I want to let you escape, but before I do I want to ask you two or three quite short questions, why is it not mandatory to have adequate initial safety training for all new dock workers?
  (Mr Starling) Under the Health and Safety at Work Act it requires that they should be adequately trained.

  543. That is the phrase, is it, "adequately trained". Do you think you have sufficient power on that basis? Is it logical to have two separate bodies dealing with port safety and port training, or should they be brought together?
  (Mr Starling) We are agnostic about that, provided they work effectively together.

  544. Are they working effectively together?
  (Mr Henderson) It is difficult for us to comment precisely. We certainly encourage them to do so.

  545. Do you find any difficulties because there are two bodies?
  (Mr Henderson) Not unduly. The overwhelming majority of safety training is undertaken by the PSO. We think that closer liaison between the two bodies can enhance that.

  546. What progress is being made towards improving the training and the qualifications held by port workers?
  (Mr Meldrum) Are you talking in terms of the passport scheme? That has been the most significant change, and we have been encouraging it. In fact initial reports from our inspectors, who have been doing the extra programme of visits this year, indicate that the scheme has been widely adopted by cargo handlers and the amount of training provided has increased. There are some concerns that not all of the training is in accordance with the induction training standard, which was referred to earlier.

  547. Thank you. Finally, do you have view on this famous Directive that Mrs de Palacio is going to hit us with?
  (Mr Starling) Any service, by whatever the nationality, the law applies to. We hope there will be proper references to safety from a health and safety point of view. The nationality of the person operating the service should not affect how it is regulated.

  548. Are you satisfied that all ports are aware of their responsibility towards safety?
  (Mr Starling) The figures indicate that there is a long way to go in some port authorities for them to be fully aware of their responsibility.

  549. Thank you. We shall bear in mind your need for more resources.
  (Mr Starling) We did not ask for them.

  Chairman: We note you do not. We have been impressed with your lobbying skills. Thank you for coming.





 
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