THE Health and Safety Executive (HSE) did not require Dorset Council to install safety railings at Weymouth harbour, it has emerged.

The HSE has issued a statement confirming it 'did not at any point' require the council to install the controversial railings - although the organisation said additional outdoor seating on the harbour had 'quite rightly' prompted the council to consider its harbour wall 'control measures'.

As reported, the controversial railings project got under way on Tuesday to stop people sitting on the harbour wall at Custom House Quay.

READ MORE: Residents react to new railings at harbour

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Dorset Echo:

A statement issued by the council on behalf of councillor Ray Bryan, Portfolio Holder for Highways, Travel and Environment on April 6, said: "The addition of temporary railings was included following advice from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to ensure that we adequately protected people from falling in the harbour.

"We will ensure all residents and users of the harbour will have an opportunity to have their say and will continue to liaise with the HSE on any further proposals.

"The Harbours Committee, as duty holders, were briefed on these discussions with the HSE at the previous two committee meetings and advised that the space would be continually risk assessed as the Custom House Quay area was developed."

Dorset Echo:

Over the past decade the council said it was aware of three fatalities and at least 11 incidents of people accidentally falling into the harbour - most recently in January this year.

The authority said it had a 'duty to ensure we have measures in place to prevent future accidents'.

The Echo contacted the HSE for details of what advice was given, and the dates of any site visits or surveys.

The HSE said it had previously advised the council to regularly review its risk assessment about harbour safety, however no site visits or surveys were confirmed. The safety body said it 'understood that the area has undergone a change of use' since.

Dorset Echo:

A spokesman for the HSE said: “HSE did not at any point require Dorset Council to install railings at Weymouth Harbour.

“We had previously advised the council to review their risk assessment for the Custom House Quay area, asking them to consider using edge protection as a control measure where there are natural pedestrian routes and areas of high footfall, should they consider it to be a reasonably practicable solution.

“Each unique site should be approached on a risk-led basis, which should consider factors such as footfall, commercial use of the area, and heritage needs.

"HSE understands that the area has since undergone a change of use, which has quite rightly prompted the council to review the suitability of their control measures.

"It is for Dorset Council, not HSE, to decide on how they manage the risk.”

  • Dorset Council was asked for comment