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Merchant Shipping Safety – Access Regulations, Liability Act, and ILO Convention Ratifications

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Explore comprehensive merchant shipping safety guidelines, including the Merchant Shipping (Means of Access) Regulations 1988, standards for safe access, and the Occupiers Liability Act of 1957. Discover a detailed list of nation states ratifying ILO conventions to ensure global maritime safety compliance.

The Merchant Shipping (Means of Access) Regulations 1988

  • Made: 21st September 1988.
  • Laid before Parliament: 30th September 1988.
  • Coming into force: 1st January 1989.

The Secretary of State for Transport, after consulting with the persons referred to in section 22 (2) of the Merchant Shipping Act 1979 (a), in exercise of powers conferred on him by sections 21 (1) (a) and (b), (3), (4), (5) and (6) and 22 (1) of that Act (b), and of all other powers enabling him in that behalf, hereby makes the following Regulations:

1 Citation, commencement and revocation:

  1. These Regulations may be cited as the Merchant Shipping (Means of Access) Regulations 1988 and shall come into force on 1st January 1989.
  2. The following Regulations are hereby revoked:
    • the Merchant Shipping (Means of Access) Regulations 1981 (c);
    • the Merchant Shipping (Means of Access) (Amendment) Regulations 1983 (d).

2 Interpretation. In these Regulations:

  • “access” means embarking on or disembarking from a ship;
  • “Code” means Chapter 8 of the Code of Safe Working Practices for Merchant Seamen published in 1978 by Her Majesty’s Stationery Office and any document amending or replacing it which is considered by the Secretary of State to be relevant from time to time and is specified in a Merchant Shipping Notice;
  • “employer” means a person for the time being employing the master;
  • “fishing vessel” means a vessel for the time being employed in fishing but does not include a vessel used otherwise than for profit;
  • “master” includes any person in charge of a ship during the absence of the master but excludes a watchman;
  • “Merchant Shipping Notice” means a Notice described as such issued by the Secretary of State;
  • “offshore installation” means any offshore installation within the meaning of section 1 of the Mineral Workings (Offshore Installations) Act 1971 (a);
  • “pleasure craft” means a vessel primarily used for sport or recreation;
  • “portable ladder” does not include a rope ladder.

Application

3 1. Subject to paragraph (2) of this regulation:

  1. these Regulations except regulation 14 apply to United Kingdom ships and;
  2. regulations 1, 2, 3, 14 and 15 apply to other ships when they are in a United Kingdom port.

2. These Regulations do not apply to:

  1. fishing vessels,
  2. pleasure craft,
  3. offshore installations whilst on or within 500 metres of their working stations, or,
  4. ships in which there is for the time being no master or crew or watchman.

3. The Secretary of State may grant exemptions from all or any of the provisions of these Regulations (as may be specified in the exemption) for classes of cases or individual cases on such terms (if any) as he may so specify and may, subject to giving reasonable notice, alter or cancel any such exemption. Any exemption given pursuant to the Regulations revoked by these Regulations shall continue in effect as if made under these Regulations; and any reference in such an exemption to a provision of those Regulations shall be construed as referring to the corresponding provision in these Regulations.

4 General Duties Concerning Access Arrangements:

1. The employer and the master shall ensure that there is a safe means of access between the ship and any quay, pontoon or similar structure or another ship alongside which the ship is secured and in particular (and without prejudice to the generality of such duty) the employer and the master shall ensure that:

a any equipment necessary to provide a safe means of access is placed in position promptly after the ship has been so secured and remains in position while the ship is so secured;

b access equipment which is in use:

  1. is properly rigged, secured, deployed, and is safe to use, and;
  2. is so adjusted from time to time as to maintain safety of access;

c access equipment and immediate approaches thereto are adequately illuminated;

d any equipment used for means of access and any safety net is of good construction, of sound material, of adequate strength for the purposes for which it is used, free from patent defect and properly maintained.

2. When access is necessary between ship and shore, and the ship is not secured alongside, the employer and master shall ensure that such access is provided in a safe manner.

3. The employer and the master in carrying out the obligations contained in this regulation shall take full account of the principles and guidance in the Code.

5 Gangways

In every ship of 30 metres or more registered length (or, in the case of an unregistered ship, of 30 metres or more overall length) the employer shall ensure that there is carried on the ship a gangway which is appropriate to the deck layout, size, shape and maximum freeboard of the ship and which complies with the specifications contained in section 2 of the Code.

6 Accommodation Ladders

In every ship of 120 metres or more in registered length (or, in the case of an unregistered ship, of 120 metres or more overall length) the employer shall ensure that there is carried on the ship an accommodation ladder which is appropriate to the deck layout, size, shape and maximum freeboard of the ship and which complies with the specifications contained in section 2 of the Code.

7 Portable and Rope Ladders. The employer and master shall ensure what:

  1. a portable ladder is used for the purpose of access to the ship only where no safer means of access is reasonably practicable;
  2. a rope ladder is used only for the purpose of access between a ship with high freeboard and a ship with low freeboard or between a ship and a boat if no safer means of access is reasonably practicable;
  3. any rope ladder used for the purpose of access to a ship complies with the specifications contained in section 2.6 of the Code;

provided that the requirements of this regulation shall not affect the requirements of the Merchant Shipping (Pilot Ladders, and Hoists) Regulations 1987 (a).

8 Life-buoys

The employer and the master shall ensure that a life-buoy with a self-activating light and also a separate safety line attached to a quoit or some similar device is provided ready for use at the point of access aboard the ship.

9 Safety Nets

  1. The employer and master shall ensure that an adequate number of safety nets is carried on the ship or is otherwise readily available.
  2. The master shall ensure that when access equipment is in use and there is a risk of a person falling from that access equipment or from the ship or from the quayside immediately adjacent to the access equipment, a safety net is mounted in order to minimise the risk of injury.

10 Use of equipment

When access, equipment is provided in accordance with these Regulations any person boarding or leaving the ship shall use that equipment except in emergencies.

11 Penalties

  1. Contravention of regulation 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 or 9 by an employer shall be an offence punishable on summary conviction by a fine not exceeding £2 000 or on conviction on indictment by imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or a fine, or both.
  2. Contravention of regulation 4, 7, 8 or 9 by a master shall be an offence punishable only on summary conviction by a fine not exceeding £1 000.
  3. Contravention of regulation 10 shall be an offence punishable only on summary conviction by a fine not exceeding £400.
  4. It shall be a defence for a person charged in respect of a contravention of regulation 4 (1) or (2) or 9 (2) to show that the requirements of the relevant regulation were complied with so far as was reasonably practicable.
  5. It shall be a defence for a person charged under these Regulations, including a person charged by virtue of regulation 12, to show that he took all reasonable precautions and exercised all due diligence to avoid the commission of the offence.

12 Where an offence under any of these Regulations is committed, or would have been committed except for the operation of regulation 11 (5), by any person due to the act or default of some other person, that other person shall be guilty of the offence, and a person may be charged with and convicted of the offence by virtue of this regulation whether or not proceedings are taken against the first-mentioned person.

13 Inspection and detention of a United Kingdom ship

Any person duly authorised by the Secretary of State may inspect any United Kingdom ship and if he is satisfied that there has been a failure to comply in relation to that ship with the requirements of these Regulations he may detain the ship until the health and safety of all employees and other persons aboard ship is secured, but shall not in the exercise of these powers detain or delay the ship unreasonably.

14 Inspection, detention and other measures in respect of ships registered outside the United
Kingdom

1. Any person duly authorised by the Secretary of State may inspect any ship other than a United Kingdom ship when the ship is in a United Kingdom port and if he is satisfied that the ship does not conform to the standards of health and safety required of United Kingdom ships by these Regulations he may:

  1. send a report to the government of the country in which the ship is registered, and a copy thereof to the Director-General of the International Labour Office and;
  2. where conditions on board are clearly hazardous to safety or health:
    1. take such measures as are necessary to rectify those conditions;
    2. detain the ship:

provided that the measures specified in sub-paragraphs (a) and (b) may be taken only when the ship has called at a United Kingdom port in the normal course of business or for operational reasons.

2. If he takes either of the measures specified in paragraph (1) (b) the person authorised, shall forthwith notify the nearest maritime, consular or diplomatic representative of the State whose flag the ship is entitled to fly.

3. The person duly authorised shall not in the exercise of his powers under this Regulation unreasonably detain or delay the ship.

15 Compensation and Enforcement of Detention

Section 460 (1) and section 692 (1) to (3) and (5) of the Merchant Shipping Act 1894 (a) (which relate respectively to liability for costs and compensation for the detention of a ship and enforcing the detention of a ship) shall have effect in relation to a ship detained under these Regulations subject to the following modifications:

a in section 460 (1) the following words shall be omitted:

  • “by reason of the condition of the ship or the act or default of the owner”;
  • “provisional”;
  • “as an unsafe ship”;
  • “and survey”;
  • “or survey” and;

b for the words “this Part of this Act” in section 460 (1) and “this Act” wherever they appear in section 692, there shall be substituted “the Merchant Shipping (Means of Access) Regulations 1988”.

Means of access

General

Reg. 4 of MS (Means of Access) Regs SI 1988 No. 1637.

1 Merchant Shipping Regulations place an obligation on both the Master of a ship and the employer of the master to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that there is a safe means of access between the ship and the shore or another ship. Where the provision of equipment is necessary to achieve safe means of access it must be placed in position promptly, be properly rigged and deployed, safe to use and adjusted as necessary to maintain safety of access. The access equipment and immediate approaches must be adequately illuminated. In carrying out these duties full account must be taken of the principles and the guidance described in this Chapter.

2 When the access equipment is provided from the shore it is still the responsibility of the Master to ensure as far as is reasonably practicable that the equipment is suitable, properly rigged and deployed, and adequately illuminated.

Reg. 10 as above.

3 When suitable access equipment is provided from the ship or from the shore or from another ship, any person boarding or leaving the ship must use that equipment.

Standards of Construction

Regs. 5 and 6, Reg. 4, Reg. 7.

1 Gangways must be carried on ships of 30 metres or over and accommodation ladders must be carried on ships of 120 metres or over, complying with the specifications in paragraphs below. Access equipment must be of good construction, sound material and adequate strength, free from patent defect and properly maintained. Rope ladders must comply with the requirements in 6.

2 Gangways and accommodation ladders must be clearly marked with the manufacturer’s name, the model number the maximum designed angle of use and the maximum safe loading both by number of persons and by total weight.

BSMA 78: 1978.

3 Gangways must comply with the specifications set out in Standard BSMA 78:1978 (excluding the maximum overall widths specified in Table 2), or be of an equivalent standard and must be fitted with suitable fencing along their entire length.

BSMA 89: 1980.

4 Accommodation ladders must comply with the specifications set out in Standard BSMA 89: 1980 or be of an equivalent standard, and must be fitted with suitable fencing along their entire length, except that fencing at the bottom platform may allow access from the outboard side.

5 When a bulwark ladder is to be used it must comply with the specifications set out in the Shipbuilding Industry Standard No. SIS 7, or be of an equivalent standard. Adequate fittings must be provided to enable the bulwark ladder to be properly and safely secured.

6 A rope ladder must be of adequate width and length and so constructed that it can be efficiently secured to the ship. The steps must provide a slip resistant foothold of not less than 400 mm × 115 mm and must be so secured that they are firmly held against twist, turnover or tilt. The steps must be equally spaced at intervals of 310 mm (± 5 mm). Ladders of more than 1,5 metres in length must be fitted with spreaders no less than 1,8 metres long. The lowest spreader must be on the fifth step from the bottom and the interval between spreaders must not exceed nine steps.

Maintenance

Reg. 4 (d).

1 Any equipment used for the provision of means of access and any safety net must be properly maintained.

2 All access equipment should be inspected by a competent person appropriate intervals. Any defects affecting the safety of any access equipment, including access provided by a shore authority, should be reported immediately to a responsible person and should be made good before further use.

3 No access equipment should be painted or treated in such a way as to conceal any cracks or defects.

4 Aluminium equipment should be examined for corrosion in accordance with the instructions in “Corrosion of Accommodation Ladders and Gangways”.

Positioning of Access Equipment

1 The angles of inclination of a gangway or accommodation ladder should be kept within the limits of which it was designed. Gangways should not be used at an angle of inclination greater than 30° from the horizontal and accommodation ladders should not be used at an angle greater than from below the horizontal, unless specifically designed for greater angles.

2 When the inboard end of the gangway or accommodation ladder rests on or is flush with the top of the bulwark, a bulwark ladder should provided. Any gap between the bulwark ladder and the gangway or accommodation ladder should be adequately fenced to a height of at least metre.

3 Gangways and other access equipment should not be rigged on ships rails unless the rail has been reinforced for the purpose.

4 The means of access should be checked that it is safe to use after rigging. There should be further checks to ensure that adjustments are made when necessary due to tidal movements or change of trim and freeboard. Guard ropes, chains etc. should be kept taut at all times and stanchions should be rigidly secured.

5 Each end of a gangway or accommodation or other ladder should provide safe access to a safe place or to an auxiliary safe access.

6 The means of access should be sited clear of the cargo working area and so placed that no suspended load passes over it. Where this is not practicable, access should be supervised at all times.

Lighting and Safety of Movement

1 In normal circumstances, the whole means of access and the immediate approaches to it should be effectively illuminated from the ship or the shore to at least a level of 20 lux, as measured at a height of 1 metre above the surface of the means of access or its immediate approaches. Where the dangers of tripping or falling are greater than usual because of bad weather conditions or where the means of access is obscured, e. g. by the presence of coal dust, consideration should be given to a higher minimum level of say 30 lux.

2 The means of access and its immediate approaches should be kept free from obstruction and, as far as reasonably practicable, kept clear of any substance likely to cause a person to slip or fall. Where this is not possible, appropriate warning notices should be posted and if necessary the surfaces suitably treated.

Portable and Rope Ladders

Reg. 7.

1 A portable ladder must be used for the purpose of access to the ship only where no safer means of access is reasonably practicable and a rope ladder must be used only for the purpose of access between a ship with high freeboard and a ship with low freeboard or a ship and a boat and where no safer means of access is reasonably practicable.

2 When it is necessary to use a portable ladder for access it should be used at an angle of between 60° and 75° from the horizontal. The ladder should extend at least 1 metre above the upper landing place unless there are other suitable handholds. It should be properly secured against slipping or shifting sideways or falling and be so placed as to afford a clearance of at least 150 mm behind the rungs.

3 When a portable ladder is resting against a bulwark or rails, suitable safe access to the deck as recommended in paragraph 2 of “Positioning of Access Equipment” should be provided.

4 A rope ladder should never be secured to rails or to any other means of support unless the rails or support are so constructed and fixed as to take the weight of a man and a ladder with an ample margin of safety.

5 A rope ladder should be left in such a way that it either hangs fully extended from a securing point or is pulled up completely. It should not be left so that any slack will suddenly pay out when the ladder is used.

Safety Nets

Reg. 9.

1 An adequate number of safety nets of a suitable size and strength are to be carried on the ship or otherwise be readily available. Where (here is a risk of a person falling from the access equipment or from the quayside or ship’s deck adjacent to the access equipment, a safety net shall be mounted where reasonably practicable. The aim of safety nets is to minimise the risk of injury arising from falling between the ship and quay or falling onto the quay or deck and as far as reasonably practicable the whole length of the means of access should be covered. Safety nets should be securely rigged, with use being made of attachment points on the quayside where appropriate.

Life-buoys

Reg. 8.

1 A life-buoy with a self-activating light and also a separate buoyant safety line attached to a quoit or some similar device must be provided ready for use at the point of access aboard the ship.

Special Circumstances and General Guidance

1 In some circumstances it may not be practicable to mount a proper safe means of access by conventional means (because of, for example, the frequent movement of the ship which is sometimes necessary during loading to facilitate trimming of the cargo, or because of the nature of the loading operation itself). On such occasions access to the vessel should be specially supervised and consideration given to providing alternative means of access for example, by using shore access arrangements or by using the accommodation ladder on the offshore side of the vessel from which a suitable boat can convey persons safely to and from the shore.

2 Small boats or tenders used to provide access between the shore and the ship should be safe and stable, be suitably powered, and be properly equipped with the necessary safety equipment and, if not a ship’s boat, be approved for that purpose. They should not be used in unsuitable sea conditions.

3 Where a vessel is moored alongside another vessel, there should be co-operation between the two vessels in order to provide suitable and safe access. Access should generally be provided by the ship lying outboard, except that where there is a great disparity in freeboard access should be provided by the ship with the higher freeboard.

4 In Ro-Ro and ferry-type ships ramps which are used by vehicles should not be used also for pedestrian access unless there is suitable segregation of vehicles and pedestrians whether by providing a suitably protected walkway or by ensuring that pedestrians and vehicles do not us, the ramp at the same time. (See the Department of Transport Code of Practice on the Stowage and Securing of Vehicles on Ro-Ro ships).

5 Care should be taken at all times when boarding or leaving a ship. Care should be taken also when moving through the dock area, particularly at night. The edges of the docks, quays etc. should be avoided and any sign prohibiting entry to an area should be strictly observed. Where there are designated routes they should be followed exactly and this is especially important in the vicinity of container terminals or other areas where rail traffic, straddle carriers or other mechanical handling equipment is operating, since the operators of such equipment have restricted visibility and anyone walking within the working area is at serious risk.

Corrosion of Accommodation Ladders and Gangways

1 Aluminium alloys are highly susceptible to galvanic corrosion in a marine atmosphere if they are used in association with dissimilar metals. Great care should be exercised when connecting mild steel fittings, whether or not they are galvanised, to accommodation ladders and gangways constructed of aluminium.

2 Plugs and joints of neoprene, or other suitable material, should be used between mild steel fittings, washers, etc. and aluminium. The plugs or joints should be significantly larger than the fittings or washers.

3 Repairs using mild steel doublers or bolts made of mild steel or a brass or other unsuitable material should be considered as temporary. Permanent repairs, or the replacement of the means of access, should be undertaken at the earliest opportunity.

4 The manufacturer’s instructions should give guidance on examination and testing of the equipment. However, close examination of certain parts of accommodation ladders and gangways is difficult due to their fittings and attachments. It is essential, therefore, that the fittings are removed periodically for a thorough examination of the parts most likely to be affected by corrosion. Accommodation ladders and gangways should be turned over to allow for a thorough examination of the underside. Particular attention should be paid to the immediate perimeter of the fittings; this area should be tested for corrosion with a wire probe or scribe. Where the corrosion appears to have reduced the thickness of the parent metal to 3 mm, back plates should be fitted inside the stringers of the accommodation ladder or gangways.

Occupiers Liability Act, 1957

Liability in tort, section:

1 Preliminary.

2 Extent of occupier’s ordinary duly.

3 Effect of contract on occupier’s liability to third party.

4 Landlord’s liability in virtue of obligation to repair.

Liability in contract:

5 Implied term in contract.

General:

6 Application.

7 Powers of Parliament of Northern Ireland.

8 Short title, etc.

An Act to amend the law of England and Wales as to the liability of occupiers and others for injury or damage resulting to persons or goods lawfully on any land or other property from dangers due to the state of the property or to things done or omitted to be done there, to make provision as to the operation in relation to the Crown of laws made by the Parliament of Northern Ireland for similar purposes or otherwise amending the law of tort, and for purposes connected therewith (6th June, 1957).

Be it enacted by the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows Liability in tort. Preliminary:

1. 1 The rules enacted by the two next following sections shall have effect, in place of the rules of the common law, to regulate the duty which an occupier of premises owes to his visitors in respect of dangers due to the state of the premises or to things done or omitted to be done on them.

1. 2 The rules so enacted shall regulate the nature of the duty imposed by law in consequence of a person’s occupation or control of premises and of any invitation or permission he gives (or is to be treated as giving) to another to enter or use the premises, but they shall not alter the rules of the common law as to the persons on whom a duty is so imposed or to whom it is owed; and accordingly for the purpose of the rules so enacted the persons who are to be treated as an occupier and as his visitors are the same (subject to subsection (4) of this section) as the persons who would at common law be treated as an occupier and as his invitees or licensees.

1. 3 The rules so enacted in relation to an occupier of premises and his visitors shall also apply, in like manner and to the like extent as the principles applicable at common law to an occupier of premises and his invitees or licensees would apply, to regulate:

  1. the obligations of a person occupying or having control over any fixed or moveable structure, including any vessel, vehicle or aircraft and;
  2. the obligations of a person occupying or having control over any premises or structure in respect of damage to property, including the property of persons who are not themselves his visitors.

1. 4 A person entering any premises in exercise of rights conferred by virtue of an access agreement or order under the National 12, 13 & 14 Parks and Access to the Countryside Act, 1949, is not, for the Geo. 6. c. 97. purposes of this Act, a visitor of the occupier of those premises.

2. 1 An occupier of premises owes the same duty, the Extent of “common duty of care”, to all his visitors, except in so far as he occupier’s is free to and does extend, restrict, modify or exclude his duty ordinary duty to any visitor or visitors by agreement or otherwise.

2. 2 The common duty of care is a duty to take such care as in all the circumstances of the case is reasonable to see that the visitor will be reasonably safe in using the premises for the purposes for which he is invited or permitted by the occupier to be there.

2. 3 The circumstances relevant for the present purpose include the degree of care, and of want of care, which would ordinarily be looked for in such a visitor, so that (for example) in proper cases:

  1. an occupier must be prepared for children to be less careful than adults and;
  2. an occupier may expect that a person, in the exercise of his calling, will appreciate and guard against any special risks ordinarily incident to it, so far as the occupier leaves him free to do so.

2. 4 In determining whether the occupier of premises has discharged the common duty of care to a visitor, regard is to be had to all the circumstances, so that (for example):

  1. Where damage is caused to a visitor by a danger of which he had been warned by the occupier, the warning is not to be treated without more as absolving the occupier from liability, unless in all the circumstances it was enough to enable the visitor to be reasonably safe; and:
Ladders on ship
Construction of different ladders
Construction of ladders
Vertical jetty supported ladders
Scheme of Gangway
Proposed Hydraulically Operated Ship Access Gangway

List of nation states ratifying ILO conventions

C. 134 Prevention of Accidents (Seafarers) Convention, 1970
Date of entry into force: 17.02.1973
StatesRatification registered
Costa Rica08.06.79
Denmark28.07.80
Egypt04.08.82
Finland22.11.74
Germany14.08.74
Greece08.06.77
Guinea26.05.77
Israel21.08.80
Italy23.06.81
Japan03.07.78
Kenya06.06.90
Mexico02.05.74
New Zealand31.05.77
Nigeria12.06.73
Poland26.06.80
Romania28.10.75
Russian Federation05.10.87
Spain30.11.74
Sweden17.02.72
Tanzania (United Rep. of)30.05.83
Uruguay02.06.77
Total of ratifications23
C. 147 Merchant Shipping (Minimum Standards) Convention, 1976
Date of entry into force: 28.11.1981
StatesRatification registered
Belgium16.09.82
Brazil17.01.91
Costa Rica24.06.81
Denmark28.07.80
Egypt17.03.83
Finland02.10.78
France02.05.78
Germany14.07.80
Greece18.09.78
Iraq15.02.85
Italy23.06.81
Japan31.05.83
Liberia08.07.81
Luxembourg15.02.91
Morocco15.06.81
Netherlands25.01.79
Norway24.01.79
Portugal02.05.85
Russian Federation07.05.91
Spain28.04.78
Sweden20.12.78
United Kingdom28.11.80
United States15.06.88
Total of ratifications23
C. 152 Occupational Safety and Health (Dock Work) Convention, 1979

Date of entry into force: 28.11.1981

StatesRatification registered
Brazil18.05.90
Congo24.06.86
Cuba15.10.82
Cyprus13.11.87
Denmark22.12.89
Ecuador20.05.88
Finland03.07.81
France30.07.85
Germany17.12.82
Guinea08.06.82
Iraq17.08.85
Mexico10.02.82
Norway05.12.80
Peru19.04.88
Spain03.03.82
Sweden13.06.80
Tanzania (United Rep. of)30.05.83
Total of ratifications18

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