Safety Guidelines on Gangway System


The Society of International Gas Tanker and Terminal Operators (SIGTTO) shared guidance on design considerations for the gangway landing areas on ships and the gangway system for terminals, discussing different gangway types and configurations and providing recommendations in an effort to maximize safe access to the ship via the gangway, says an article published on safety for sea website.

What is Gangway?

Gangways are the primary means of safe access to a ship that is alongside a jetty, but due to the variety of ship and terminal designs, it is difficult to get a perfect fit in every situation. The provision of safe access is the joint responsibility of the ship and terminal.

Operational challenges

There are generally five areas of physical ship and shore compatibility:

  • Safe mooring arrangement;
  • fender contact;
  • manifold and loading arms arrangement;
  • emergency shutdown (ESD) system linked connections and communications;
  • gangway arrangements.

Terminal Design Considerations

As a minimum, the following safety aspects should be amongst those considered during the gangway design stage:

  • The walkway should be obstruction-free and non-slip
  • there should be continuous handrails on both sides
  • the gangway should be electrically insulated to prevent electrical continuity between the ship and shore
  • the gangway should be capable of being locked in the stored position
  • the gangway can be operated in free wheel mode after positioning on the ship
  • there should be operation redundancy in the event of primary power source failure
  • consider the human factor to minimise risk of human error in operations
  • consider the human factor to minimise the risk of injury and error during maintenance
  • clear information about the operational limits, including limiting weather criteria, should be provided
  • automatic retraction of the gangway should not be initiated by automation
  • manual activation of automatic retraction should have sufficient delay for personnel to escape
  • the gangway bridge should have sufficient width for a stretcher to be carried across
  • fit position monitoring systems that generate alarms before operational limits are reached
  • as far as possible, position the gangway between the manifold area and accommodation ladder
  • terminals that allow port and starboard berthing may need to consider two gangway towers
  • the terminal control room should be able to monitor the gangway and deck ladder visually or by CCTV
  • gangway location should be considered early in the design stage and gangway designers should be consulted and kept informed during the various project phases
  • adequate lighting should be provided for the gangway.

Gangways should be designed to ensure maximum compatibility with a wide range of ships. The following compatibility aspects should be amongst those considered during the design stage:

  • As far as possible, the gangway design should avoid the need for special fittings on a ship;
  • the landing footprint should be as small as possible;
  • there should be the ability to slew a minimum 2.5 m forward and aft of the landing position centre;
  • the slewing range should be greater than the terminal surge and sway allowance;
  • the operational envelope should consider deck elevations and drift values of the ships expected to call at the terminal;
  • the longitudinal position of the gangway landing area should be clear of the manifold area, accommodation ladder fittings, ship-to-ship transfer fittings and any other deck fittings that would possibly impede the safe operation of the gangway in expected operational conditions.

Ship Design Considerations

Suitable spaces should be identified and specially designed for landing gangways. The following aspects should be considered in the ship’s design:

  • Ship design should try to provide the maximum clear area for landing a shore gangway
  • there can be more than one location on each side of the ship, and, where possible, landing areas aft of the manifold area are to be preferred
  • obstructions in the gangway landing areas should be minimized, and those that cannot be avoided should be moved as far inboard as possible
  • ship drift during operations should be considered
  • where possible, the gangway landing area should be a minimum of 2.5 m wide. Note that this refers to the ship’s perspective and refers to athwartship measurement
  • where possible, limit the height of deck fittings that are in line with ship side railings to the height of the railings
  • try to provide the longest possible box rail with a safe working load of 4.2 MT (vertical) and 1.7 MT (horizontal)
  • clear information should be provided to the ship owner regarding the strength of relevant deck areas and supports
  • the ship and shore interface plan should include information on the gangway landing area, including any obstructions, detail of manhole covers and handrails and supports.

Gangway Operations – Terminal

The ship and terminal should share the responsibility of ensuring safe access between the ship and terminal. The following points are useful to help ensure safe operations:

  • The gangway should be installed and operated according to the manufacturer’s instructions
  • planned maintenance routines and inspections should be carried out
  • a lifebuoy with light and line should be provided on the jetty near the gangway
  • terminal procedures should clearly indicate the weather limiting criteria for safe operations
  • clear instructions should be available on what to do if the maximum values are exceeded
  • initial and refreshment training should be provided to personnel involved in operations and maintenance
  • appropriate area access restrictions should be in place
  • gangway compatibility should be checked with every ship calling at the terminal
  • shore gangway systems are strongly preferred over portable gangways, but if portable gangways are unavoidable, then safety nets should be used
  • deck ladders should be placed directly on the ship’s deck and temporary platforms should be avoided as far as possible
  • straight shore gangways should not be landed on ship’s handrails unless they are specifically designed for that purpose
  • the weight or force exerted by the gangway on the ship’s deck or gangway support should be provided to the ship.


  • SIGTTO shared guidance on design considerations for the gangway landing areas on ships and the gangway system for terminals.
  • Gangways are the primary means of safe access to a ship that is alongside a jetty.
  • The gangway should be installed and operated according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

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Source: safety for sea 



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