Employee Representatives and PSS

Published: Monday, November 23, 2020 - 08:32

We start our final week talking to the employee representative groups that work with us in promoting health and safety for stevedores, marine pilots, and all quayside workers. We approached Unite the Union, the UK Harbour Masters Association and the UK Marine Pilots Association and asked them how they view the relationship with PSS.


UKHMAThe UKHMA commented that they enjoy a long-standing relationship with PSS and share a desire in implementing and adopting effective regulation, safe working procedures, and competence-based training where identified as possible. Members will note that this broadly echoes Colin Bassam’s call for standardised training throughout the industry. Overall, UKHMA is happy with the support PSS provides and looks forward to cooperating further over the next five years.

Meanwhile, UKMPA believes there is more that they and PSS can do together in 2021. For example, the organisation is looking to play an active role within PSS work groups, pertaining both to safety and training within a port environment. Of particular import is the health and wellbeing of their membership, including mental health and fatigue management. During week two of our campaign, we heard Wendy Freeman of Peel Ports discuss the impact UKMPAmental health can play on a workforce, and it is a message that has been repeated often by other contributors such as Dr Alan Page and Shoreham Ports. UKMPA believe that PSS can proactively help to support individual ports’ mental health plans as well as across the industry as part of our Whole Person approach. This will continue to be an area of focus for us as we enter the new year. UKMPA have also expressed a desire to continue working on boarding and landing safety, as it is during pilot transfers that their members encounter the greatest risk. Not only is UKMPA working to increase general awareness, but they are also keen to explore the potential for a national competency standard for pilot boat crews. At the forefront of increasing general awareness is a need to develop a safety culture of mutual personal responsibility for your own and your colleagues’ safety. This message can, and indeed should, be communicated in a user-friendly and engaging way.

One of the many developments for PSS in 2020 was the hiring of a new communications manager who has begun to expand our collaborative communication. This new initiative will take time, and PSS is looking to work closely with members to ensure the messages they wish to communicate are done so in the most effective way possible. In the case of UKMPA, their highest priority has always been the importance of reporting pilot ladder deficiencies as failure to do so not only endangers pilots but reinforces confusion over ladder compliance. We have, of course, made the industry’s voice heard on this critical safety issue in many forums, including with the regulatory authorities and Department for Transport. This has been part of a collective effort with partner stakeholders such as UKMPA, the British Ports Association and UK Major Ports Group.  We have a working group looking at boarding and landing safety which is co-sponsored by the MCA and Port Marine Safety Code Steering Group.  As part of our communications strategy, PSS will continue to promote the importance of pilot ladder maintenance and reporting to the sector.

Unite The UnionUnite the Union share UKMPA’s concern for the coordination between vessels and ports and believe that this should be an area of focus moving into 2021.   Other areas of interest for Unite include safety of quayside procedures and facilities, safe berthing for harbour tugs and workboats and the provision of restroom facilities for visiting drivers.  They are also keen to encourage further inclusion of safety representatives in accident investigations as well as in development and review of safe systems of work and risk assessments.

Specifically, with PSS, Unite are keen to continue joint development of the Safety in Ports (SiP) suite of guidance overall and specifically on handling of pulp and paper products. Unite also support the work that we are doing to ensure the use of the existing SiP documents within the industry. This includes our proactive SiP Survey, in which we partner with volunteer ports to evaluate their usage at multiple levels of operations. We strongly encourage all members to rigorously review and enact SiP document usage in their ports, to prevent accidents from occurring in the first place.


PSS thanks UKMPA, Unite the Union, and UKHMA for their considerable time and patience in the putting together of this article. This exercise is part of an ongoing effort to grow the ways that we respond to and communicate with our colleagues and stakeholders.  2020 has presented considerable challenges for the industry and we continue to learn, adapt, and respond, providing the best support and guidance to our members and other stakeholders.  In this spirit of learning, we welcome feedback, advice, and offers of collaborative work going forward.