Memorandum by the Health and Safety Executive
1. HSE is the government agency responsible
for enforcing the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and associated
secondary legislation within ports. The most important of these
for docks are the Docks Regulations 1988, the Dangerous Substances
in Harbour Areas Regulations 1987 and the regulations introduced
to implement the EC's Health and Safety Framework Directive. This
legislation applies not only to the docks, but to the ships when
shore based workers are on board. It does not apply to health
and safety issues when work is carried out solely by the ship's
crew under the direction of the master. These are enforced under
merchant shipping legislation by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency
(MCA). HSE has a Memorandum of Understanding with MCA which sets
out the respective jurisdiction and functions of the two organisations.
FACING UK PORTS
2. Work in docks is dangerous. Although
the industry is relatively small in employment terms (the Annual
Employment Survey for 1998-99 showed there were 23,698 employees
in Standard Industrial Classification SIC 63220) the number of
accidents reported (695 in 1998-99 and 709 in 1999-2000) means
that the reported accident rate is 2,933 per 100,000. This is
higher than for other land based industries, the nearest comparison
being coal mining and quarrying at 2,732 per 100,000.
3. HSC/E consider that the underlying causes
of the high accident rate are the inherent danger of the work
and inadequate management control, training and risk assessments
compounded by the commercial pressures on docks to load and unload
ships quickly. The main health and safety issues causing concern
workplace transportboth on
the quayside and in the holds of ships;
cargo handling and stacking;
musculoskeletal risks faced by crane
and plant drivers and those handling heavy loads; and
protection for those working in dusty
or noxious conditions.
4. The ports are the UK's interface with
the rest of the world and the docker's workplace is frequently
the ship itself. The Ports Safety Organisation estimate that a
third of dock accidents occur on board ships. Many older ships,
particularly from third world countries, are in poor condition.
Certain new types of ship are designed to maximise payload and
minimise port charges with the result that the design hinders
5. Policy and legislation
- Apply the Revitalising Health and Safety Strategy
to portsareas of particular relevance are detailed in Modern
Ports: A UK Policy (page 39).
- Update the legislation to reflect changes in
the industry, make it clearer and easier for port managers to
follow. A start has been made on thiswork on the new Dangerous
Goods in Harbours Regulations is well advanced and initial discussions
have taken place with industry and trade unions on revising the
Docks Regulations and the Approved Code of Practice "Safety
in Docks". This together with associated guidance will address
the health and safety concerns outlined in paragraph 3 above.
- Liaise with the International Labour Organisation
(ILO) to enable the Government to ratify the ILO Convention 152
on dock work. The ILO is considering revising its Code of Practice
and Guidance on the Convention.
- Make Directors and senior port managers more
aware of their responsibilities (eg for managing the safety of
operations, liaison with ship masters and control of dock premises).
A key step in this process will be a conference on 12 March organised
with the help of the Ports Safety Organisation, at which John
Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister,
and Bill Callaghan, the Chair of HSC, will speak.
- Encourage the introduction of adequate initial
safety training for all new dock workers.
- Encourage the extension of the industry's "passport"
scheme which covers non-permanent employees (those employed on
a casual basis or supplied by labour agencies) and their initial
training, so that it includes all their qualifications (eg what
types of plant they have been passed to work on); and applies
to all those employed in dock work.
- HSE Inspectors have been making extra visits
to several large ports during 2000-01 to emphasise the importance
of management and training, particularly in relation to other
port users and sub-contractors.
- HSE takes firm action against those who deliberately
work in a dangerous manner or who do not maintain their premises
The Port, Lloyds and the (Swedish)
manufacturers concerned were prosecuted after the Port of Ramsgate
walkway collapse. The fines imposed totalled £1,700,000 and
are among the highest imposed for a breach of health and safety
legislation. (Although the fines levied on the manufacturers have
not yet been recovered, HSE is seeking provision at EU level for
the recovery of fines in such circumstances).
- In the course of routine visits, HSE Inspectors
are concentrating on the particular health and safety issues mentioned
in paragraph 3 above, as well as the management issues in paragraph
Work on ships
- Improve the liaison arrangements with the MCA
so that ships which are potentially dangerous are reported quickly,
enabling MCA to take action under its legislation.
- Provide evidence of the consequences of potentially
unsafe designs, so that MCA can refer the matter to the International
Maritime Organisation, with a view to obtaining international
agreement on improving the minimum standards.
Health and Safety Executive
18 January 2001
14 The Deputy Prime Minister was unable to attend
the Safer Ports Conference, and Keith Hill MP, Minister for Shipping
and Ports, deputised for him. Back