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Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003


107.Prior to this Act there was no specific legislation to regulate alcohol consumption in the maritime industry apart from a general provision in section 58 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995. That section made it an offence for the master or a seaman employed in a UK-registered ship, or in a foreign ship in a UK port or in UK waters on its way to or from a UK port, to endanger his ship or other ships by reason of being under the influence of drink (or drugs). There is no maximum blood/alcohol limit specified.

108.Following the Marine Accident Investigation Branch's (MAIB) inquiry into the Marchioness disaster in 1989, the then Government asked John Hayes to conduct a wider inquiry into river safety. The Hayes Report, published in 1992, included a recommendation that a breath test should be introduced, similar to that applying to motor vehicle drivers which would apply to the skippers and crew of all vessels. Subsequently, in August 1999 the Government announced an inquiry to review all the arrangements to ensure safety on the Thames. The inquiry chairman, Lord Justice Clarke, made a number of recommendations, in particular that primary legislation should be used to introduce alcohol legislation for vessels on similar lines to that existing in relation to road traffic. These recommendations were further reinforced by Lord Justice Clarke in his report of the Formal Investigation into the collision between the Marchioness and the Bowbelle.

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