UK’s largest port will launch ‘Safe Boarding Week’, a European first

The Port of London Authority (PLA), which oversees operations in the UK’s largest port, will launch ‘Safe Boarding Week’ this month, the first of its kind in Europe. The week-long safety initiative, from Monday 27 February to Sunday 5 March 2023, aims to increase awareness of safe access to and from vessels, and highlight the importance the PLA places on safety on the 95 miles of the tidal Thames that it manages.

Safe access to and from the varied range of vessels on the Thames, including pilot ladders onto ships, as well as ship to shore access at berths, terminals, jetties, and piers, is a key concern for the PLA. Inspired by Panama Canal Authority (ACP)’s Safe Boarding Week, an annual event since the late ‘80s, the PLA decided to initiate its own safety event, which aligns with its proactive approach to safety and safe boarding

PLA’s chief harbour master Bob Baker said:

“We continue to engage with berths and terminals where difficulties in providing gangway access are known to exist, and deficient boarding arrangements are frequently reported. Safety is at the heart of the what the PLA does every day; ‘Safe Boarding Week’ aims to increase awareness of the PLA’s commitment to safe vessel access on the River Thames.”


During the seven days of Safe Boarding Week, the PLA aims to inspect the boarding facilities of 200 cargo and passenger vessels, as well as terminal operators, jetties, and piers. The results of these comprehensive assessments will enable the PLA to influence further improvements to safe boarding on the River Thames.


The responsibility for safe access on and off the vessels on the tidal Thames is shared between the master of the ship/vessel, in respect to Safe Access regulations, and the jetty or terminal operators, many of whom elect to abide to the Port Marine Safety Code.

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