Safety Policy






  1. Safety Statement


All the passenger boats operated by the Bristol Ferry Boat Company are licensed to operate as such by the Maritime & Coastguard Agency – The Government Authority which controls the operation of all passenger vessels operating in UK Navigable Waters. We also comply with relevant health and safety regulations, including the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

All our vessels are categorised as Class Five Passenger Ships and as such must be surveyed every 12 months to ensure that they are seaworthy and are equipped with the safety equipment laid down by the licence. The passenger-operating license is clearly displayed on each vessel.

Our boats are checked for mechanical or other faults by every skipper before every voyage and preventative maintenance is carried out by our own experienced team.

All our boats are skippered (driven) by fully trained and qualified skippers who hold MCA Boat Master Licences.  This means that they must have passed an exam which includes a practical test as well as assuring an MCA Inspector that they are conversant with Rules of Navigation and various local quirks relating to boat operation within Bristol City Harbour.

The Skippers all hold Marine VHF Radio operating certificates and all the boats are in touch by Radio with other vessels and the Harbour Master.

The crew do not need by law to have any formal qualification, but Bristol Ferry Boats’ crew undergo a rigorous training programme developed by the Company and delivered by our Training Officer. The training includes First Aid qualifications, sea survival, basic mechanics and rescue procedures that are updated and reviewed regularly. We take passenger safety very seriously.

Crew are taught how to safely tie up boats, help passengers on and off the vessels, be vigilant to any possible passenger dangers and to use the safety equipment on board. Crew and skippers are only then employed if the company Training Officer is satisfied with their standard of competency.   

Our boats carry the regulation, life rafts or floats and life rings, first aid kits and fire fighting equipment.

The Bristol Ferry Boats operate its regular services and chartered boats with the agreement of the Harbour Master within the City Docks area.  His staff are kept fully in touch with our operation to ensure that all public passenger vessels are being operated safely.


If you wish to inspect our boats at any time or discuss safety matters further please contact:

Philippa Bungard, General Manager of Bristol Ferry Boats

Tel:  0117 927 3416



Safety is naturally paramount to us whilst school children and members of the public are on our boats. With respect to the safety and comfort of all our passengers we would like to draw your attention to the following:


  • All of our boats are under the strict controls of the Marine Coastguard Agency and are issued with licenses on an annual basis to take passengers. We also comply with relevant health and safety regulations, including the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
  • We carry all the relevant lifesaving appliances and firefighting equipment. Our crew are regularly trained and practiced in the use of this equipment.
  • Each boat is staffed by one skipper and one crew. At the start of every trip a safety announcement will be made. Crew will ensure that every passenger can hear the announcement, and that instructions are adhered to.
  • Our crew are trained in first aid, and there is a first aid kit on board every boat.
  • Please check the weather and wear appropriate clothing. Although the boats used for school visits are all equipped with an indoor cabin, children will be exposed when boarding and disembarking. Sturdy footwear is particularly important, waterproofs in the rain, and sunscreen, hats and long sleeves will protect your group from burning in hot weather.
  • The boats used for school visits are equipped with flushing or chemical toilets. If there is no running water, sanitizer gel is provided for hand washing.
  • One of our boats is equipped with wheelchair access. Crew are trained to operate this.
  • All the boats have £20,000,000 public liability insurance.


Summary of Risk Assessments in Respect of Educational Visits with the Bristol Ferry Boats in Bristol Floating Harbour


Controls by School Staff

Controls by Bristol

Ferry Boat Crew

Remaining Risk

Slip, trips and falls whilst walking to/from/on the landing stage before boarding, or after alighting the boat.

  • Talk to the children before the trip about the dangers of the water, quayside and steps.
  • Wait a safe distance from the quayside with the children.
  • Adequate supervision of group by responsible adults. (Teachers and assistants).
  • Arrive at the landing stage with enough time to remind the children of the dangers. (Not limited to, but should include points in italics or bold)
  • Ensure above all they DO NOT RUN.
  • Crew and skippers trained to be aware of anybody too close to the edge when approaching landing stage, and issue warnings.
  • Skippers briefed to not approach landing stages if prospective passengers fail to heed the warnings.
  • Crew first-aid trained.
  • First aid kit provided.


Slips, trips and falls whilst boarding or alighting the boat.

  • Talk to the children before the trip about the importance of taking care, only using the steps, and holding on to handrails.
  • Ensure the children get on and off the boat one by one following instructions from the crew.
  • Ensure nobody boards or alights until allowed.
  • Adequate supervision of group by responsible adults. (Teachers and assistants).
  • Crew trained to assist boarding and alighting, with particular care taken in the case of the 4 to 8-year age group where their environment awareness can be low.
  • Steps to be kept clean and as dry as possible by crew.
  • Boat moored securely and correctly as per crew training.
  • Skipper to monitor, advise and assist as necessary.
  • Crew first-aid trained.
  • First aid kit provided.


Trapping fingers between landing stage and the boat.

  • Talk to the children before the trip about the dangers of leaning out of a boat and making sure they keep their hands and arms inside the boat.
  • Follow instructions from crew and skipper.
  • Listen to the health and safety announcement and assist with keeping the children engaged with this announcement.
  • Adequate supervision of group by responsible adults. (Teachers and assistants).
  • Skipper trained to impart safety announcement in an appropriate format for the age group concerned, especially younger children who may be less aware of their surroundings.
  • Crew trained to pay particular attention to hands and arms being inside the boat and ensuring they are not leaning out at all.
  • Crew first aid trained.
  • First aid kit provided.
  • Crew trained to ensure that all passengers are sat when the boat is mooring before disembarkation.


Falling out of the boat while trip is underway. (Man overboard)


  • Talk to the children before the trip about the dangers of leaning out of the boat/ standing on the seats.
  • Remain seated or kneeling while using the bow, and follow safety instruction from the skipper and crew.
  • Adequate supervision of group by responsible adults. (Teachers and assistants).
  • In the highly unlikely event of a man overboard responsible adults to keep children sat, quiet and calm whilst the crew perform their duties.
  • Crew trained to be vigilant throughout the trip to ensure children are seated or kneeling in the bow and do not interfere with any of the boat’s equipment e.g. window catches fire extinguishers etc.
  • Crew trained yearly in ‘man overboard’ rescue procedure.
  • Boats provided with flotation devices.


Breaking windows inside the boat


  • Ensure children do not stand on the seats or bang on the windows.
  • Adequate supervision of group by responsible adults. (Teachers and assistants).
  • Crew trained to prevent standing on seats, sitting on tables, or banging on the windows.
  • Windows are fitted with toughened ‘star’ glass, which is robust and will crumble into small granular chunks, less likely to cause injury.
  • Crew first aid trained.
  • Brushes and dustpans provided on boats for crew to clear up any broken glass.



Participation in all forms of water-based outdoor activity carries with it a very small risk of contracting the disease. 


  • Talk to the children before the trip about the need for good hand hygiene.
  • Simple protective and hygiene procedures can further reduce the already small chances of infection. 
  • Wash hands after touching water or wet equipment such as ropes.
  • Cover any existing cuts and abrasions with a waterproof plaster before participation. 
  • Crew are trained to prevent children playing with the ropes and other equipment.
  • Hand washing facilities are available on the boats in the form of a wash basin or hand cleaning gel.
  • Crew are trained to encourage passengers to wash their hands if they do touch any ropes or dock water.