British Ports Association urging final push with important UK-wide marine safety compliance exercise

Ahead of the deadline of the current UK Port Marine Safety Code compliance exercise, the British Ports Association has called on all UK ports, harbours and marine facilities to report through to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to maintain the credibility of the important port safety tool.

Commenting, Richard Ballantyne Chief Executive of British Ports Association, which represents over 400 ports and facilities, said:

“The Port Marine Safety Code is an important instrument and we want to see it used by the ports industry. It is therefore essential that UK ports participate in the current compliance exercise.

The Code helps ports to limit and control their operational safety risks, and minimising the possibility of incidents and accidents. As well as allowing operators to stay on top of their operational safety arrangements, the PMSC provides the government with a strong indication that the sector is in safe hands.

In recent years the Code’s coverage has expanded beyond the traditional UK port authority and now includes other entities such as individual terminals and marinas. There have also been challenges for some smaller local authority owned ports understanding all the relevant issues. Getting the message out to these facilities is important so as to ensure safety management is as comprehensive as is possible across our industry.”

The BPA works closely with the Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA), the Department for Transport and ports around the UK to encourage compliance. The industry body regularly holds briefing sessions for port duty holders, those at ports with the ultimate responsibility for safety at their organisation. The Association is also developing a separate session for port terminal operators and marine facilities as a result of the growing interest from those less familiar with the Code.

The MCA’s Ports and VTS Policy Manager, James Hannon, who leads on PMSC compliance for the UK government, welcomed the BPA’s call to arms and suggested port operators still had time to participate in the current exercise:

“It is vital that all types of UK ports and marine facilities participate in the current PMSC compliance exercise. The Code and its accompanying guidance provide an essential toolbox to ensure the control of risk and the maintenance of safety in the ports and marine environment.

The Code is recognised across the industry and has been developed in partnership by the UK government and industry over the last two decades. These resources set out how ports can assess risks, design safety management systems, and also install governance processes to ensure that a Designated Person is able to evaluate controls and report directly to port duty holders and boards.”

The current PMSC exercise runs until 31 March and requires port duty holders to submit a letter of compliance to the MCA. The compliance exercises are conducted by the government every three years and details are available here.

Alongside this the MCA also carries out a number of port ‘health checks’ to verify that the correct instruments are in place at a number of different ports each year.