Stevedoring

Stevedoring involves all activities directly connected with: 

  • loading or unloading vessel cargo 

  • stacking and storing on the wharf 

  • receiving and delivering cargo within the terminal or facility. 

As a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) you have a duty to keep workers safe from the risks of stevedoring. Information on this page will assist PCBUs understand the risks of stevedoring and their duties to workers and others.   

WHS duties  

Everyone in the workplace has WHS duties under the model WHS Act.  

You have specific duties if you are: 

  • a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) 

  • a principal contractor 

  • a designer, manufacturer, importer, supplier and installer of plant, substances or structures 

  • an officer. 

The model WHS Regulations have duties that apply to stevedoring. This includes managing risks of powered mobile plant, hazardous manual tasks and falls from height.  

As a PCBU, you must, so far as is reasonably practicable:  

  • ensure the health and safety of workers and others at your workplace  

  • consult with workers who carry out work for the business or undertaking and who are (or are likely to be) directly affected by a health and safety matter, and 

  • consult cooperate and coordinate activities with all other relevant duty holders. 

Managing risks  

Stevedoring operations are diverse and often high risk. The industry has high rates of serious injury. 

The hazards with this work are also diverse and may include: 

  • lashing and unlashing above shoulder height 

  • working at height, near an open hatch 

  • climbing ladders 

  • working in confined spaces, in holds or between cargo 

  • falling objects, like suspended cargo or unsecured loads 

  • poorly maintained equipment 

  • extreme weather 

  • refrigerated containers 

  • lashing next to refrigerated containers and jump-starting vehicles 

  • stored energy, including pressurised liquids and gases, tensioned cable or ropes 

  • noisy equipment and tools 

  • handling hazardous cargo 

  • fumigating ship's holds 

  • welding or oxy-cutting, handling combustible cargo and other fire hazards 

  • working in darkness – in holds or at night 

  • using incorrect lifting gear. 

Associated risks with stevedoring work may include: 

If it’s not possible to eliminate a risk you must minimise it, so far as is reasonably practicable. You can use one or more of these measures: 

  • Substitute the hazard for something safer 

  • Isolate the risk from workers 

  • Use engineering controls. 

If a risk remains, minimise it using administrative controls and personal protective equipment (PPE). 

You must also provide training on safe work procedures.

The model Code of Practice: Managing risks in stevedoring has more information on the risk management process.

Supporting information