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Workplan 2014/15 – Ports Inspection

Formerly SIM 05/2012/02


This OG replaces SIM 05/2012/02 and explains the FOD 2014-15 inspection programme for ports and docks. It focuses on the issues identified as higher risk and involving poor performance, as well as promoting effective leadership from port operators and employers to address them.


HSE’s work with the ports sector specifically links to the HSE Strategy Health and safety of Great Britain – be part of the solution and particularly addresses the need for strong leadership, involving the workforce and building competence.

Three issues have been identified for attention: lifting equipment; use of non-permanent employees (NPE’s); and workplace transport. These issues should be used by Inspectors, so far as relevant to activities in the targeted port, to gauge the effectiveness of the leadership and management systems at the ports. The Industry’s own Safety in Ports (SiP) guidance series provides an up-to-date benchmark of what is reasonably practicable for the industry.


In 2014/15, FOD divisions should undertake targeted inspections of ports to assess health and safety standards and promote leadership. Strong leadership from the port operators will lead to improved standards among NPEs and all the occupiers and users of port premises.

While every port is different, and each inspection will therefore depend on actual port operations and activities, the following areas have been identified as issues of current and emerging concern for attention for the industry. Inspectors should use these issues, when relevant to a particular port, to gauge the effectiveness of the leadership and management systems in place there:

Further information on these matters is given in Appendix 2.

Inspectors should:

Inspectors are asked to:


Ports, docks and wharves present a dynamic, and potentially high risk, working environment. Cargoes and specialised handling methods vary widely both between and within ports, and there are external factors, such as standards of cargo stowage on incoming ships, cargo shift due to adverse weather conditions, time constraints and pressures due to weather conditions and state of tide, and a potentially hostile work environment on the dockside. 

While health and safety standards have improved significantly in recent years, the industry accepts that further improvements are needed.  

Numerous different parties are involved in the loading/unloading process, including harbour authorities and harbour masters, port and berth operators, stevedores, visiting hauliers, crane and lifting equipment operators, and ships crew. Seasonal variations in cargo and timing of ships arrival and discharge also give rise to variations in manpower requirements, and the use of non-permanent employees (NPEs). Because of the range of activities and employers, there have been concerns about levels of training and competence and worker involvement, particularly for NPEs.



21 visits are proposed:

Proactive inspections should be focussed on any sites that are identified locally as being a priority for inspection.

Applicable organisations will normally fall under the following SIC codes:


Visits may be undertaken at any time during the work year 2014/ 15

Recording & Reporting

Any visits made to ports should be recorded on COIN according to normal procedures. The keyword PORTS14 should be used.  Narrative reporting will also occur via the quarterly FOD dashboard.

The Docks Community site will offer a facility for inspectors to log planned and completed visits and to see what their colleagues are doing.

Transportation Section will provide a spreadsheet to show where visits have been undertaken and any significant findings or action, and maintain a series of folders on the Docks Community Site to store and share the information generated by Inspectors and help avoid repetition.

Where relevant, Inspectors can either post any useful information onto the Ports Community site or send information to Transportation Section for uploading.

Where relevant, Inspectors can either post any useful information onto the Ports Community site or send information to Transportation Section for uploading.

Health & Safety

Inspecting ports has potential to expose HSE staff to health and safety risks. Inspectors should refer to HSE’s guidance for visiting staff.


Due to the international nature of the ports industry, Inspectors may encounter a number of workers/parties for whom English is not their first language.

Further References


OPSTD Manufacturing and Transportation Unit, Transportation team


Appendix 1: Crane Safety Checklist

  1. Site Details; Details of cranes on site; Type; Make; Capacity; Year
  2. Who in your organisation administers thorough examination of cranes?
    Which organisation/s undertakes thorough examination of your cranes?
    How was the organisation undertaking thorough examination selected?
    How do you assess their competency as an organisation to undertake this work?
    How does the organisation selected assess the competency of individual persons undertaking thorough examination?
    Are the organisation/s selected members of SAFed or INITIA?
  3. Is thorough examination undertaken in accordance with a written scheme or at periodic intervals?
    What is the frequency of thorough examination?
    Do you have a defined scope of thorough examination for each crane?
    How much time do you schedule for a thorough examination?
    Is the crane taken out of service for all of this time?
    What equipment or arrangements do you make for work to be completed at height?
    Do you provide maintenance staff to assist the person undertaking thorough examination?
  4. Do you undertake any supplementary tests and inspections in support of thorough examination? If so do they include:
    Overload test; Load test within rated capacity; Function test on limiting and indicating devices; Calibration test on Rated Capacity Limiter and Indicator (load and radius); Calibration test of anemometer; Hoist brake test; Luffing brake test; Non Destructive Examination of crane structure; HV/LV Electrical System inspection; Hoist over speed detection system function test; Rope examination inspection; Hook and Hook Block inspection; Rope sheave inspection; Gearbox internal inspection; Any other tests or inspections?
  5. Who undertakes supplementary tests and inspections in support of thorough examination?
    Are these discussed and reviewed in advance of the thorough examination?
    Who decides which tests and inspections are to be undertaken?
    What arrangements are in place for the competent person undertaking thorough examination to witness the supplementary tests and inspections?
  6. Do you provide the following information to the organisation undertaking thorough examination?
    Details of maintenance work completed on crane
    Details of any modifications or structural repairs
    Details of any overloads or shock loadings
    Data on crane usage (hours), number of lifts and load spectrum
  7. Have you undertaken or commissioned any design reviews of the structural integrity and service life of your cranes?
    If so who undertook this work?
    What prompted this review?
    Have you acted on the findings of this review?
    Did the review take account of historical and future crane usage?
  8. What arrangements do you have to ensure that the findings of any thorough examination are acted upon?
    Where there is a defect involving an existing or imminent risk of serious personal injury?
    Where there is a defect in the equipment which could become a danger to persons?
    How do you deal with recommendations and observations?
    How do you record the actions you have taken to close out the reports?
  9. Do you hold any management review meetings with your thorough examination provider to assess the adequacy of the thorough examination regime?
    If so how often do you hold these meetings?
  10. What arrangements do you have for the thorough examination of container spreader frames?
    Are the spreader frames examined at the same time as the parent crane or separately?
    Are any functional tests completed?
    What checks are made on electrical or hydraulic interlocks?
  11. What arrangements do you have for the thorough examination of personnel access lifts on cranes?
    What arrangements do you have for the thorough examination of lifting accessories?

Appendix 2:  Background to issues for attention

Maintenance and examination of docks cranes and lifting equipment

Following a number of serious incidents involving failure of dockside cranes and lifting equipment, HSE investigations have raised wider concerns about awareness of the suitability and limitations of lifting equipment in ports, possible overloading or exceeding equipment specifications, the effect of modifications, and the adequacy of current schemes for routine maintenance, examination and testing.

Agency workers or NPEs

Use of agency workers or NPEs is common throughout the port sector and is, in many cases, well managed and controlled. However, there are continuing concerns and complaints about lack of training and supervision of NPEs, and claims of under-reporting of accidents and incidents. Inspectors should identify the agencies and labour providers used, ensure that use of NPEs is well managed and to take action where poor standards of selection, training, competence and supervision are identified.

The industry has produced its own guidance on engagement of NPEs. HSE guidance on Agency workers will also be relevant.

Workplace Transport

Movement of vehicles and plant both on the dockside and around the port is potentially a major risk. On the dockside there is often a wide range of vehicles and equipment using shared space, including mobile cranes, FLTs, straddle carriers, MAFIs, tugs and visiting trucks and trailers. There may also be workers on foot undertaking tasks such as guiding loads, removing twistlocks or supervising operations. Segregation is preferred but not always possible, and training, competence and supervision are important.

Key areas of concern include personnel management and supervision on the dockside, pedestrian control in truck and trailer parks; design of traffic routes and enforcement of speed limits etc; information for visiting drivers; provision of suitable facilities for visiting drivers including (where necessary) welfare facilities, safe areas for checking and sheeting/securing of loads, and safe parking areas; appropriate use of trailer parking brakes.

In most cases the guidance on the HSE Workplace Transport web pages will apply. More detailed guidance on ports-specific activities and risks can be found on the HSE Ports web pages, in the industry Safety in Ports (SiP) guidance series, particularly SiP001 Safety in Workplace Transport and and SiP010 Guidance on Workplace Transport (Ro-Ro and Sto-Ro operations)

Updated 2018-08-13