Dangerous Goods in Harbour Areas Regulations 2016 (DGHAR)

The Dangerous Goods in Harbour Areas Regulations 2016 (DGHAR) came into force on 1 October 2016. DGHAR contains a set of safety provisions aimed at safeguarding ports against major accidents involving dangerous goods when they transit through ports, harbours and harbour areas. The purpose of the regulations is to put in place certain specific measures to reduce the risk of a serious incident occurring.

DGHAR revoked and replaced the Dangerous Substances in Harbour Areas Regulations 1987 (DSHAR) together with its associated Approved Code of Practice; removing redundant, superseded and duplicated provisions. The remaining sections were updated and simplified to create a shorter set of regulations.  The definition of dangerous substance in DGHAR is based on that of the International Maritime Organisation's International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code (IMDG Code).

Details of the changes introduced by DGHAR may be found in the Explanatory Memorandum of the Statutory Instrument.

Guidance on the regulations

DGHAR is supported by an Approved Code of Practice and Guidance (ACOP) L155.


The main provisions of DGHAR are:

  • anyone bringing dangerous goods into a harbour must pre-notify the arrival of the goods to the harbour master and/or berth operator
  • the harbour master is given powers to regulate the movement of dangerous goods within the harbour area when they create risks to health and safety
  • the master of a vessel carrying defined quantities of specified dangerous goods must display appropriate flags and lights
  • harbour authorities must produce emergency plans to deal with potential consequences of an emergency involving dangerous goods in the harbour area, and any 'untoward incidents' (incidents involving or threatening the containment of dangerous goods) must be reported to the harbour master
  • berth operators must provide certain information on emergency arrangements to masters of vessels
  • harbour authorities must provide a designated parking area for road vehicles carrying dangerous goods
  • harbour areas where explosives are to be brought in or handled must be licensed by HSE or, in certain cases, the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR). This also applies to any loading or unloading of explosives on the coast of Great Britain or in territorial waters
  • associated safety and security requirements for explosives in harbour areas
  • statutory harbour authorities are given powers to make byelaws on dangerous goods in their harbour area

Other relevant legislation and guidance

Navigation and marking of vessels

The Port Marine Safety Code establishes a national standard for every aspect of port marine safety and aims to enhance safety for those who use or work in ports, their ships, passengers and the environment.

Many ports and harbours have local legislation governing safe navigation and other matters.  Information on this can be obtained from the port in question.

Handling of Dangerous Substances

Handling of dangerous substances on the shore side of a harbour area is subject to duties under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 as well as various regulations made under it. These include:

Transfer of Liquid Dangerous Substances in Bulk

Ship-to-ship transfer is governed by the Merchant Shipping (Ship-to-Ship Transfer) Regulations 2010 and guidance on these regulations is available in the Maritime and Coastguard Agency's Merchant Shipping Notice MSN 1829 (M). Please note this legislation has since been amended several times, details of these amendments are available.

Guidance on ship-to-shore transfer of dangerous substances, including a safety checklist, is available in The International Safety Guide for Oil and Tanker Terminals (ISGOTT), 6th Edition.

Packaging and labelling of Dangerous Substances

Packaging and labelling of dangerous substances is covered under various pieces of legislation including the Carriage of Dangerous Goods and Use of Transportable Pressure Equipment Regulations 2009 (CDG) and the Merchant Shipping (Dangerous Goods and Marine Pollutants) Regulations 1997. Please note the CDG regulations have since been amended, details of these amendments are available. Further information is also available in HSE's Carriage of Dangerous Goods Manual.

Storage of dangerous substances

Storage of dangerous substances in a harbour area is subject to duties under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 as well as various regulations made under it. These may include:

Storage of dangerous substances in enclosed or confined spaces on board craft is subject to duties under The Merchant Shipping (Entry into Dangerous Spaces) Regulations 1988. In response to a number of fatal incidents internationally, a public consultation by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to review these regulations took place during May to July 2021. The findings of the consultation have been published and The Merchant Shipping and Fishing Vessels (Entry into Enclosed Spaces) Regulations 2022 will revoke and replace The Merchant Shipping (Entry into Dangerous Spaces) Regulations 1988.  The consultation report is available.

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Updated 2024-02-09