Safe Access/Egress to Marine Vessels in Port

The purpose of this Safety Alert is to highlight the risk of falls to workers and others when there is no safe access or egress to moored marine vessels whilst in port.


In June 2018, a worker received serious injuries after he fell 5.2m from Raptis Wharf while getting off a moored fishing vessel. The incident occurred despite the following two incidents which occurred in recent years and ongoing engagement by WorkSafe Inspectors with PCBU’s and industry.

  • August 2017, a worker received serious injuries after he fell from the top of a Raptis Wharf ladder to a vessel moored below. NT WorkSafe issued a PCBU with an improvement notice and an investigation was undertaken.
  • January 2016, a worker died after falling between a barge and the wharf at Hudson Creek. An improvement notice was issued to the PCBU. On completion of its investigation, NT WorkSafe has charged the PCBU and the ships master for breaching Section 32 of the Work Health and Safety (National Uniform Legislation) Act.

In all three incidents, no gangplanks were provided to ensure safe access and egress to the vessels.  The PCBUs and vessel Masters did not ensure so far as is reasonably practicable, the means of entering and exiting the vessel (a workplace) were without risks to the health and safety of any person.

Contributing factors

  • No secured gangplank was provided.
  • The ships safety management system did not require the Master to ensure safe access/egress for workers and others was provided, or
  • The ships safety management system did require a gangplank to be provided, and the Master failed to implement the required procedure.
  • Alcohol and drugs policies/Fitness to Work policies were not fully implemented.

Action required

  • Ensure all workers know:  NO safe access/egress – DO NOT PROCEED
  • Review vessel safety management systems to ensure there is a requirement for the Master or duty officer to plan for and implement safe access/egress for workers and others whilst moored in port.
  • Review worker induction processes to ensure all workers are aware of restrictions in entering or exiting the vessel where safe access/egress is not provided.
  • Schedule work and worker movements on/off the vessel in accordance with the tides.
  • Only allow workers and others to access/egress the vessel when it is safe to do so.
  • Ensure appropriate drug and alcohol policies are developed, fully implemented and maintained.

Further information

For further information please refer to the following


Code of practice

Guidance publications


This Safety Alert contains safety information following inquires made by NT WorkSafe about an incident or unsafe practice. The information contained in this Alert does not necessarily include the outcome of NT WorkSafe’s action with respect to an incident. NT WorkSafe does not warrant the information in this Alert is complete or up-to-date and does not accept any liability for the information in this report or as to its use.