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Marina development safety

Safety is an essential consideration throughout all stages of your scheme.

There are diverse and detailed safety regulations which should be incorporated into the design, construction and operation of mooring sites.


Mooring sites and marinas are often considered and treated as 'car parks' for boats in relation to safety. The authority regulating safety for mooring sites will usually be the local authority, however the Maritime & Coastguard Agency and the Health & Safety Executive also have a role to play. The primary legislation covering safety for businesses is the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 (Section 3 relates specifically to visitors & contractors) and the Occupiers Liability Acts 1957 and 1984.

There is a range of organisations specialising in public safety consultancy and some specialise in water safety.

Designing for safety

Under the Construction Design and Management (CDM) Regulations 2007 specific legal duties are placed on designers of construction projects. These include designing with consideration to constructing, maintaining and dismantling safely. Please contact the Health and Safety Executive for further information.

Consideration should be given to the navigational safety of boats leaving and entering the marina, as well as those on the mainline canal, when deciding upon the location of the marina entrance and designing its layout. We will assess the navigational safety of the proposals as part of our appraisal.

Operating safely

Operators' responsibilities extend to everyone on the site including boating customers, casual visitors, general public and staff in the workplace. The safety of those with disabilities and people by water are equally important considerations.

Risk assessment is a key element to providing a safe environment. The safety of people at a mooring site is a fundamental aspect of the design process. A risk assessment, at the design stage, of the proposed activities at the site will highlight features to be designed into the scheme. These could extend to, for example, pontoon lay-out and sizes, lighting, access to facilities, service provision to boats, segregation of car parking, provision of life-saving equipment, storage of hazardous substances, etc.

Once the site is built and operational, there should be a clear safety policy and appropriate operating procedures (including inspection and maintenance) informed by regular risk assessment.

The Yacht Harbour Association (TYHA) publishes a comprehensive guide which includes safety advice: 'A Code of Practice for the Design, Construction and Operation of Coastal and Inland Marinas and Yacht Harbours'.

Water safety

Serious consideration must be given to water safety. The provision of life-saving equipment alone may not necessarily discharge your legal duties. Issues such as slip resistant surfaces on pontoons and walkways adjacent to the water, demarcation of edges (e.g. contrasting colours and tactile surfaces), height of freeboard, the provision of a means of escape and a method of preserving life whilst waiting to be rescued must all be considered.

RoSPA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) have a dedicated water safety section. You can engage their consultants to carry out water safety audits which include reports with advice on risk assessments and operating procedures.

The National Water Safety Forum (NWSF) is a useful source of information for operators and includes resources and good practice.


Security is particularly important to customers. Good design can limit the potential for crime and vandalism, and enhance personal safety.

We publish a document with the Metropolitan Police 'Under Lock and Quay' which contains good practice for designing out crime from waterside environments. You could also contact the local Crime Prevention Officer at an early stage in the design process.

  • HSE (Health & Safety Executive)
  • "A Code of Practice for the Design, Construction and Operation of Coastal and Inland Marinas and Yacht Harbours " produced by The Yacht Harbour Association (TYHA)
  • RoSPA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents)
  • Visitor Safety in the Countryside Group Guidance: Managing Visitor Safety in the Countryside principles & practice
  • National Water Safety Forum (NWSF)
  • British Marine Federation (BMF): Health and Safety Handbook for Boat Builders and Boat Repair
  • Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA)
  • "Under Lock and Quay" published jointly by the Canal & River Trust and the Metropolitan Police

Last Edited: 10 June 2024

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