The UK maritime industry is taking a leading stand in the fight against the illegal use of Dangerously Weighted Heaving Lines (“DWHLs”) in UK ports and harbours, an issue spanning the shipping and ports sectors.

To coincide with the Department for Transport’s important Maritime Safety Week 2019, #maritimesafetyweek, the British Ports Association, British Tugowners Association, Port Skills and Safety, UK Chamber of Shipping, UK Major Ports Group, and UK Marine Pilots Association have issued a joint notice to raise awareness against their use and the consequences.

Richard Steele, Chief Executive of Ports Skills and Safety, the UK’s professional ports health and safety membership organisation, welcomed the notice,

“Health and safety is a shared responsibility and I am delighted to be part of this joint commitment to raise standards and show real leadership on the issue of dangerously weighted heaving lines.

Inappropriate and illegal use of DWHLs poses significant risks to maritime workers both on vessels and on the quayside. There are clear, well established rules for safe use. These must be adhered to.”  

The notice highlights what is expected of seafarers in the International and Domestic codes of the

International Labour Organization (“ILO”) Code of Practice – Safety and Health in Ports and the Marine and Coastguard Agency’s (“MCA’s”) Code of Safe Working Practices, and cross-industry signatories call for ship-owners, ship-managers, ship’s agents, port operators and pilots to assist in eradicating the use of DWHLs through simple steps:

  • Informing all incoming vessels of their duty to follow the Code of Safe Working Practices (COSWP)
  • Issuing them with MCA Safety Bulletin No. 2 – Dangerous Weighted Heaving Lines
  • Stressing that fines, Port State Control Inspections and criminal prosecution are likely, especially should a vessel persist in using DWHLs.

Bob Sanguinetti, Chief Executive of the UK Chamber of Shipping,

“For the UK Chamber Safety is front and centre of everything it does, and so I am delighted to see industry taking a joined-up collaborative approach in raising awareness of unsafe and dangerous practices and steps to prevent their reoccurrence.

The safe connection between ship/shore or ship/tug is essential for efficient operations and shackles and weighted monkey’s fists have no place.

Maritime Safety Week should be praised for providing a focal point for such issues and is firmly supported by the UK Chamber as it looks to continue the safety drive with the launch the Safety Charter during LISW.”


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