Docks Regulations

Docks Regulations 1988 (S.I. 1988/1655) and

Approved Code of Practice with Regulations and Guidance (COP25)


5.1 These Regulations impose duties for the management of workers health, safety and welfare in relation to specific docks-related activities. The Regulations were conceived as a single set of Regulations which addressed port-specific activities and risks at a time when there was limited published guidance and standards for docks and the ship/ shore interface, and accident rates were very high.

5.2 Parts of these Regulations have already been revoked by the Work at Height Regulations 2005 (WAHR); the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER) 1998; and the Confined Spaces Regulations 1997. What remains primarily relates to what is now considered good practice in the management of health and safety.

5.3 In particular the remaining parts of the Regulations have been superseded by more general requirements of recent legislation such as the Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (MHSWR), and requirements for risk assessment and the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 (WHSWR), the Manual Handling Operations Regulations (MHOR) 1992 along with the more specific requirements of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) 1998, LOLER and the WAHR.

5.4 Since the introduction of the Regulations, health and safety standards in ports have also been set out in internationally accepted Conventions and Codes of Practice such as the ILO Code of Practice on Safety & Health in Ports (ILO152). Parallel Merchant Shipping (MS) legislation implements relevant European Directives. While the UK Government has not ratified the ILO Occupational Safety & Health (Dock work) Convention 1979 (ILO152), its principles are reflected in much of the available guidance.

5.5 The Docks Regulations are supported by a Code of Practice and guidance in Safety in Docks (COP25). If the Regulations are revoked, this COP will have no legal basis so HSE, through this document, is also consulting on the withdrawal of its approval for COP25.

5.6 HSE has been working with industry stakeholders for some time to produce a suite of freely available HSE badged industry Safety in Ports (SiP) guidance documents which provide signposts to relevant legislation and up-to-date guidance on good practice and current health and safety standards ( It is intended that any guidance currently in the ACoP which is still useful will be incorporated into HSE and industry guidance.

Rationale for revocation

5.7 HSE believes that these prescriptive Regulations have been superseded by the requirements of more recent goal setting legislation and also deal with some activities and work practices which are no longer commonplace.

5.8 Some activities are now also covered by aspects of Merchant Shipping (MS) legislation and guidance. The recent development of industry health and safety guidance has confirmed that the Regulations and the ACoP are outdated. Health and safety standards in ports can now be dealt with more effectively through other existing legislation and the comprehensive HSE, Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) and industry guidance on health and safety standards and practices. Such guidance is more relevant to current work practices, and can be developed as necessary to address new and emerging risks.

5.9 In addition to the published industry SiP guidance, a gap analysis has identified the need for additional guidance on five topics which have now been approved for development for publication in May 2012. These are: Occupational Health in Ports; Non-permanent employees; Safe access and egress; Confined spaces in ports; Emergencies, Adverse events and Contingency planning. Any useful guidance in the current Safety in Docks ACoP and guidance will be incorporated into existing or planned industry guidance, including updating of the HSE Quick Guide to Health & Safety in Ports (INDG446), or development of an additional introductory document to the industry SiP series, to ensure that no useful information and guidance are lost.

5.10 This approach will also allow greater involvement in the development and adoption of international health and safety standards which deal with the wider transport chain and risks which originate outside Great Britain.

5.11 In addition to the industry guidance, there is a significant amount of published guidance and standards available from organisations such as the International Cargo Handling Coordination Association (ICHCA) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO), including the ILO Code of Practice on Safety & Health in ports which is broadly the same as current HSE and industry guidance for ports.

5.12 Table 3 (below) shows how the duties set out in the current Regulations and ACoP are covered by other legislation and guidance. This analysis shows that there are no significant areas of the Docks Regulations that are not covered by other more recent legislation. This has been further supplemented by existing or planned HSE/industry guidance.

5.13 On this basis HSE believes that these Regulations and ACoP are no longer needed and that their withdrawal will not lead to a reduction in health and safety protection. If these proposals are approved HSE will continue to work with the MCA and the industry to complete the development of any additional guidance that has been identified and planned to replace the existing ACoP and guidance.

5.14 These Regulations have been cited 56 times on Notices issued in the previous 13 year period and have been cited 38 times in approved prosecution activity in the same time period. It is anticipated that this level of enforcement could be achieved using the alternative legislation listed in Table 3, without any inappropriate reduction in the level of enforcement, or of protection given to workers and the public..