New guidance for the safety of dock workers

The Health and Safety Executive, has worked with Port Skills and Safety and Unite the union to produce a new, simpler Approved Code of Practice and signposting guidance document for the docks industry.

The new guidance (Safety in Docks: Approved Code of Practice and guidance – L148) replaces the existing Approved Code of Practice (COP25) which has been withdrawn as part of the revocation of the Docks Regulations 1988.

This Approved Code of Practice (ACoP) is more concise and will help dutyholders understand what they need to do to comply with the general duties under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and other relevant regulations. Topics covered include Workplace Transport, Falls from Height and Lifting Operations. The new ACoP has been developed to address both the larger end of the industry as well as those engaged in dock work in smaller locations (e.g. small harbours, quays, etc).

The ACoP is supplemented by the Safety in Ports guidance sheet series which has been produced by Port Skills and Safety (PSS) with support from Unite and HSE. These sheets are endorsed by HSE and are freely available via both the HSE and PSS websites. These sheets together with the new ACOP will deliver a comprehensive and coherent package of guidance for the industry.

Vincent Joyce, HSE’s Head of Transportation, said:

“The removal of the regulations is part of a package of revocations that streamline and clarify the regulatory framework. This will enable businesses to concentrate on the things that matter and improve the workplace protection for employees and others.

“Although the Docks Regulations are being removed this will not lower safety standards as dutyholders will still have to comply other legislation that provides the same level of protection. Employers who needlessly put workers and the public at risk can still expect to face action from HSE.

“We’ve worked with employers and unions to provide a comprehensive package of guidance and will continue to work with them to ensure that the changes are properly communicated to across the industry.”

 In addition to the new ACoP and guidance, HSE has updated its Ports website which now includes links to the new ACoP and Safety in Ports guidance sheets.

 To download the guidance free of charge or purchase a hard copy please go to and for more information you can visit

 Notes to editors:

  1.  The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill-health. It does so through research, information and advice; promoting training; new or revised regulation and codes of practice; and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement.
  2. The revocation of the Docks Regulations and withdrawal of the associated ACOP (COP25 Safety in Docks) was subject to a public consultation in 2012 where 85% of responses were in favour of the revocation. The revised ACOP was developed and consulted upon for 6 weeks between 9 April and 22 May 2013. The legislation revoking the Docks Regulations was enacted in October 2013 but the coming into force of revocation be delayed until April 2014 in order to allow sufficient time for the main parties to agree the detail of a revised ACOP.
  3. The guidance (L148) covers topics including Management; Workplace Transport; Falls from Height; Lighting; Lifting operations; Dusty cargoes; Musculoskeletal disorders; Slips and trips; Confined spaces; Transport by water; Rescue, life-saving and fire-fighting and means of escape; Welfare; Lone working; First aid; and Accident reporting.
  4. The PSS series of Safety in Ports guidance sheets, which are designed to replace the guidance material currently found in COP25, include topics such as Access and Egress; Water Safety; Confined Spaces; Emergency Planning; and Managing  Non-Permanent Employees.

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