Playing it safe

5 Июн

В настоящей статье в доступной форме рассматриваются вопросы, связанные с безопасностью людей, работающих в местах, насыщенных машинами, в частности, портах и терминалах. Особое внимание уделяется опасности неправильного указания веса груженых контейнеров. Исследуются и другие проблемные вопросы, в особенности, связанные с безопасной обработкой контейнеров. В заключение делается вывод о том, что практика подсказывает необходимость развивать профилактические меры по предупреждению несчастных случаев с работниками.

Despite technological progress at ports and terminals, there is always room for improvement when it comes to the safety of workers, as Federica Ragonese discovers

With the industry still facing challenging economic conditions, operators are under increasing pressure to handle more con­tainers at a faster pace. Despite these challenges, however, it is essential to ensure that safety does not suffer. According to Lars Meurling, VP marketing and product business development at Bromma Conquip and current chairman of the Safety & Environment Committee of the Port Equipment Manufacturers Association (РЕМА), the main safety concerns arise where heavy machines operate in the same spaces as human beings.

As he told CM, danger areas include stevedores mounting and dismounting twistlocks on containers during loading and discharging, straddle carriers tipping over and yard cranes hitting outer containers in the stack in interchange areas on both the land side and quay side of terminal operations. He added: “Another safety risk related to the interchange area is when the container has to be lifted off a truck/trailer and the twistlocks have not been opened. Situations where the truck is lifted with the container are not uncommon.”

Captain Richard Brough, technical adviser to the Inter­national Cargo Handling Coordination Association (ICHCA), concurred that, apart from container weighing, the most dangerous aspects of handling relate to twistlocks and vehicles.

He told CM that many accidents involve collisions between port plant and vehicles, with injuries and fatalities occurring either to pedestrians in the terminal or to drivers themselves. Other significant risks include port workers falling from height while working on containers or handling twistlocks and lashing rods, or being crushed between containers.

Laurence Jones, risk assessment director of insurer the TT Club, said that the group’s analysis of port and terminal incidents over the past five years shows that 81 % of claims for bodily injury were due to accidents involving mobile equipment and vehicles.

He elaborated: “The biggest single issue is lift trucks colliding with pedestrians, which accounts for 32% of all insurance claims for bodily injury. Straddle carriers overturning is also a big issue, with a number of incidents in recent months. Some 16% of the cost of claims is due to single person incidents, which include slips, trips and falls. Lashing on the ship, one of the last manual operations in modern terminals, continues to be a high-injury activity.”

A spokesperson from the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) said: “There are concerns about everyday ‘near misses’ in ports, including incidents involving vehicles and equipment, caused in particular by overweight or misdeclared containers.”

Physical and mental fatigue and muscular and skeletal disorders are also identified by ITF member unions as major health and safety concerns, though, according to the spokes­person, stress and mental fatigue are somewhat underesti­mated. They added: “We also find that the widespread use of sub-contractors in ports increases the likelihood of risks in all health and safety categories.”


Many accidents involve collisions between port plant and vehicles, with injuries and fatalities occurring either to pedestrians in the terminal or to drivers themselves.


While most major industry players are aware of the safety concerns around handling containers, some dangers remain underestimated. According to Jones, although many terminals have implemented systems that remove pedestrians from areas where mobile equipment is operating, many more still allow pedestrians free passage within the terminal.

Meurling agreed that the issue of separating unprotected human beings from heavy machinery needs more attention, while in some cases individuals do not follow existing procedures. Brough made the same point, adding that personnel potentially at risk include ships’ crews, stevedores, lashing gangs, plant drivers and visiting haulage drivers.


According to Captain Chris Roberts, risk assessor at insurer UK P&l Club, the biggest safety concerns relate to the mis- declaration of cargoes inside containers, leading to discrep­ancies between a box’s declared weight and its actual weight. There are other dangers too. Roberts added: “We have seen incidents of fires in container terminals where, for instance, products were misdeclared and turned out to be charcoal, causing a fire in the container because of self-heating.”

He added: “We also had a case of a fire in a container that was carrying children’s toys, belting material for conveyer belts, peroxide and cutting disks. None of this was properly secured, and when it all got mixed up together and caught fire, everybody was surprised.”

The huge number of containers handled by most facilities makes it impossible for them to monitor each one. Although ship operators generally do all they can to ensure safety, the impossibility of double-checking everything generates dangers, according to Roberts. He said: “The human interface is the problem. Most accidents on-site are to do with human beings at some point in the chain – unfortunately, human error happens.”

Captain Andrew Kinsey, senior marine risk consultant at Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty, which recently published its Safety and Shipping Review 2016, agreed that the mis- declaration of containers represents one of the biggest safety threats. He pointed out that this issue adversely affects ports’ bottom lines, as well as being dangerous to workers handling containers.

Another risk comes from old containers that are still in use, but which might not be structurally sound. Kinsey said: “It is easy to get into the mindset of ‘It’s good for one more trip’.” He added that terminals sometimes underestimate the importance of properly implementing all possible procedures for effective operation, and there are major safety concerns around a lack of professionalism.

Proper stowage of containers plays a huge role in ensuring safety at ports. Kinsey stressed that it is fundamental to ensure that containers have been properly stowed and that the materials inside have been properly secured, underlining the importance of shippers always knowing where their cargoes are, how they are handled and how they are being carried. This also implies proper training for all personnel involved in stowage operations.


Many ports and terminals have put a lot of effort into ensuring safety around container hadling, but the question inevitably arises as to whether there is room for improvernent. Most of those canvassed by CM believe that thеre is.

To tackle the issue of misdeclared containers, the Inter­national Maritime Organzaton (IMO)’s new weight venfication requirement under the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) convention will come into force on July 1, 2016. This will make it mandatory for a container’s weight to be verified before it can be loaded onto a ship. Roberts, however, pointed out that while the industry may be getting to a point where the gross weight of containers can be veгifiеd, “there were also needs to be more regulation аbout thе proper dесlагаtion of what is inside the container”.

The ITF spokesperson told CM that the organisation would like to see health and safety for workers improved through the wider introduction of written policies and standard procedures, and through greater worker involvement in risk assessments. In addition, safety could be improved through more consultation with workers or crocecures, the establishment of health аnd safety committees aro ensuring that health and safety representatives are easyly accessible.

Improving safety standards involves wider cellenges too. According to the spokesperson from the ITF, these include the widespread use of sub-contractors аnd casual labour, and the relentless focus on productivity targets. Tne ITF believes that real levels of injury and risk are under-recorded by employers – a view supported bу Вгough, who told CM that the ICHCA had been notrfiea of more than 30 fatalities since September 2015. but “the reality is probably significantly higher than that”.

Meurling pointed out that the first step in improving safety is to make sure that people are well trained on existing safety procedures. He observed: “Training is, however, difficult. The most important part of it is to make people understand why they are being trained and what the training is intended to prevent. If straddle carriers are used and driven according to the instructions given by the suppliers, then accidents would not-happen.”


We want to ensure that training and preventive maintenance in our terminals are not adversely affected, so that equipment is properly maintained and operators do not simply wait until it breaks.

Meurling believes that it is possible to improve and optimise processes from a safety perspective, but it is important to realise that a process optimised for safety is not necessarily optimised for efficiency. He concluded: “Technologies to reduce and even eliminate risk areas exist and more are being developed. More and more terminals are investing in such technology, but investment decisions need to be based on improved safety and not necessarily on return on investment in monetary terms.”


Jones agreed that good training and awareness are the best ways to ensure safety. He said: “We are all human and we all make mistakes, and so systems, procedures and tech­nologies should be implemented to supplement good training. Most, if not all, accidents are preventable in this way.” Brough agreed that a greater awareness of the dangers was important, adding that better segregation of people and machinery was also fundamental. Human behaviour itself represents a significant challenge, he pointed out, so automation might help in achieving better segregation.


According to Kinsey, the maritime industry must change its way of thinking and become more proactive rather than reactive. “We have to start using the technology that is at our disposal when dealing with the size and complexity of our modern just-in-time delivery chain,” he explained. “We saw what happened with the Tianjin explosions; we have to understand and address the risk before it happens.”

Kinsey agreed that automated or semi-au­tomated terminals are potentially safer for workers but added that, as with any new technology, automation brings its own concerns, including IT problems and malicious hacking attacks. Apart from this, he said, the main challenges currently to improving safety were changing climate conditions, the economic pressures facing the industry and the recent declines in freight rates and cargo handled.

He added: “When you start to see ports under that type of pressure, you have to make sure that safety does not suffer. We want to ensure that training and preventive maintenance in our terminals are not adversely affected, so that equipment is properly maintained and operators do not simply wait until it breaks.”

According to Jones, the biggest challenge to improving safety lies in convincing management that a “safety first” policy does not reduce productivity levels or cost more money – something that many businesses have yet to realise. He concluded: “One leading global terminal operator found that its most efficient and productive terminals were also its safest. Besides avoiding injuries and saving lives, it does pay to be safe in financial terms.”

Автор: Federica Ragonese

Источник: Container Management. – 2016. – April/May. – P. 54 – 57.