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Port Marine Safety Code (PMSC)

What is the Port Marine Safety Code?

The Port Marine Safety Code (“the Code”) sets out a national standard for every aspect of port marine safety. Its aim is to enhance safety for everyone who uses or works in the UK port marine environment. It is endorsed by the UK Government, the devolved administrations and representatives from across the maritime sector and, while the Code is not mandatory, these bodies have a strong expectation that all harbour authorities will comply. The Code is intended to be flexible enough that any size or type of harbour or marine facility will be able to apply its principles in a way that is appropriate and proportionate to local requirements.

Who is the Code for?

The Code is applicable both to statutory harbour authorities and to other marine facilities which may not have statutory powers and duties. These are collectively referred to throughout the Code as ‘organisations’ and may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Competent Harbour Authorities (authorities with statutory pilotage duties);
  • Municipal Port or Harbour Authorities;
  • Trust Port or Harbour Authorities;
  • Private Port or Harbour Authorities; and
  • Marine berths, terminals or jetties.

It is strongly recommended that organisations or facilities which are not a statutory harbour authority, such as marine berths and terminals, seek a proportionate compliance with this Code through the adoption of a formal risk assessment process and the implementation of a marine safety management system (“MSMS”) which complies with this Code or any alternative similar standard applicable to their sector.

Where a marine terminal or jetty is situated within the jurisdiction of a Statutory Harbour Area (“SHA”), it is important for both parties to engage with one another to ascertain the scope and extent of the SHA’s MSMS and whether it incorporates any of the terminal’s or jetty’s marine operations. This engagement will help to define whether it is necessary for the terminal or jetty to develop their own MSMS. If it is decided that an additional system is required then the above engagement should focus on ensuring that the two MSMS complement each another and avoid any duplication of effort.

Not all the requirements of the Code are relevant to all authorities or organisations. Some have no compulsory pilotage and a review (risk assessment) would confirm if there was a need to provide such a service. Others have no commercial activity – they handle no commercial vessels and do not possess any of the berthing and/or dock facilities that go with them. Their professional staff may require particular skills for the local circumstances but those associated with a commercial port might not be among them. However, those members of staff may well support and encourage leisure activities within the port or facility. Objectives will be framed and need to be stated accordingly.

What does the Code cover?

The Code has been developed to improve safety in the port marine environment and to enable organisations to manage their marine operations to nationally agreed standards. It provides a measure by which organisations can be accountable for discharging their statutory powers and duties to run harbours or facilities safely and effectively. It also provides a standard against which the policies, procedures and performance of organisations can be measured. The Code describes the role of board members, officers and key personnel in relation to safety of navigation and summarises the main statutory duties and powers of harbour authorities. The Code is designed to reduce the risk of incidents occurring within the port marine environment and to clarify the responsibilities of organisations within its scope.

The Code should be read in conjuction with its companion Guide to Good Practice on Port Marine Operations (”the Guide”). The Guide underpins the ethos of the Code by providing additional guidance and practical examples and has been written and approved by maritime professionals to assist organisations in promoting and executing safe, efficient and accountable port marine operations based on industry best practice.

Who should read the Code?

The Code is primarily intended for the ‘‘duty holder’’ which will, for most organisations, mean those members of the organisation, both individually and collectively, who are ultimately accountable for marine safety. All duty holders should therefore familiarise themselves with the Code and review any implications for their marine operations.

It is strongly recommended that the duty holder, and all officers involved in marine safety, also consider the advice on good practice provided in the Guide as well as reviewing the recommendations and the common lessons learned from major accidents and incidents which can be found on the Marine Accident Investigation Branch website.

The Port Marine Safety Code and Guide to Good Practice on Port Marine Operations can be found here.