Access to vessels

Access to vessels should generally be provided by the ship's accommodation ladder, gangways or other ladders. It is the duty of the ship's Master and his employer to provide and maintain safely in position, a ship's gangway or accommodation ladder under the Merchant Shipping (Means of Access) Regulations 1988

The duties of shore based workers are to monitor access gangways and accommodation ladders and only use if they are safe.

Access to small vessels

Due to their size , the access to small vessels may be provided by the dock or port. This may be via ladder, gangway, pontoon or directly from the vessel onto the quay.

Good co-ordination and co-operation is vital when accessing small craft to make sure that access and egress can be done safely and without risks to health. Consideration should also be given to issues such as: adequate lighting, maintenance, prevailing conditions, housekeeping, etc. 

HSE carried out a review on the Standards as Quayside Ladders


These are used to provide a safe means of access between ship and shore at all states of the tide. They can be designed for use by people or vehicles and in some cases both, provided that adequate separation is provided. Further information on linkspans and walkways is available.

Further information

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Updated 2022-06-28