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Tor Bay Harbour

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Safe means of access to commercial vessels in Tor Bay

From 11 June 2020

UK regulations make a vessel’s employer and/or Master responsible for ensuring that there is a safe means of access between ship and any quay, or between ships if outboard another. The provision and use of such equipment should follow a formal risk assessment and incorporated into the vessel’s Safety Management System.


The regulations require a Master to provide safe access arrangements “promptly” which is deemed to be immediately after securing alongside and certainly before any agents, contractors, port officials or others have need to board the vessel. Similarly it must be put in place before any crew are permitted to disembark.


The primary purpose of the fixed ladders in all Tor Bay harbours is to facilitate the recovery of people falling into the water, and should not be considered a safe means of access, particularly if the vessel is held off the wall by large fenders or strong winds etc.


All vessels over 15m are expected to carry and secure in place a suitable means of access (eg ladder or gangway) each time they are alongside. Further guidance can be found in SIP 021: Guidance on Safe Access to Fishing Vessels and Small Craft in Ports.


Where no safe means of access is available, contractors, surveyors or other workers may decline to embark to undertake work, and in the case of an accident the lack of provision of a safe means of access could result in HSE enforcement action or even the vessel being detained if a serious accident occurred.


Seafarers or other workers who find there is no safe access to or from a vessel should not compromise their own safety by attempting to board or disembark using substandard or unsafe access methods.


Attention is drawn to MAIB report 09/20 report on the investigation of man overboard from MV Cherry Sand, resulting in a fatality.

Adam Parnell

Tor Bay Harbour Master