Nautilus International has condemned UK government plans to revoke four shipping safety regulations introduced in response to recommendations made by the formal investigation into the 1987 Herald of Free Enterprise ferry disaster.
The union accuses the government of putting costs before safety in its ‘repugnant’ plan to scrap the requirements for ro-ro passengerships to be fitted with on-deck emergency equipment lockers containing axes, crowbars, lifting gear and ladders.
In its response to a public consultation on the proposals, Nautilus argues that they are being ‘driven by deregulatory dogma’ and that it is wholly unacceptable to consider removing equipment that could help to save lives in an emergency.
The Union says the proposals have been built on a ‘dangerously complacent’ assumption that the root causes of the Herald disaster have been addressed by subsequent safety measures.
Emergency equipment lockers are in fact more important than ever because of the increasing size of ferries, it points out. ‘The importance of such equipment — or the lack of it — was demonstrated in the recent Sewol ferry disaster in South Korea,’ it adds.
Nautilus says the government has failed to produce any evidence to justify the removal of the regulations as part of its Red Tape Challenge to remove ‘unnecessary’ legislation.
The Union also warns against the proposed scrapping of an associated requirement for goods vehicles and items of cargo over 7.5 tonnes to be weighed in ports before loading.
‘These essential measures are an integral part of a safety package drawn up in response to the Herald disaster and we must continue to learn from such accidents,’ said Nautilus senior national secretary Allan Graveson. ‘We believe these proposals have been driven by commercial pressures and by those who have little regard for the lessons of history.’