TT Talk - When the music stops…
As we walk down any street it is common to see people talking animatedly on mobile phones or blanking out their environment with music or suchlike from their MP3 player. How many times have we noticed that such people seem oblivious to what is going on around them? Sadly, there are instances where claim investigations reveal that similar personal electronic devices have caused or contributed to an accident at work, often resulting in an injury.
Any logistics or terminal facility is vulnerable. In one recent incident a signalman, who was using a mobile phone while working, communicated incorrectly to a crane driver. As a result, a container struck and killed a foreman. In another accident, a man listening to his MP3 player stepped from behind a container straight into the path of a front loader, and was run over and killed.
This general issue was recently considered by a court concerning an accident in which a man fell from a height and the use of a mobile phone was implicit in the incident. The Judgment found the employer liable because there was no company policy regarding the use of such devices. The clear implication is that if there had been a policy and it was being suitably enforced, the accident might not have happened.
The ICHCA International Safety Panel considered in July 2011 the increase in availability and variety of devices and revised its guidance on mobile phones, which was first published in 2006. The Statement on personal electronic equipment urges any cargo handling facility to have a policy on the use of mobile (cell) phones, media players, personal audio devices and other similar electronic devices such as (but not limited to) MP3 players and iPods at work in relation to safety, quality and operations.
Except where their use is directly connected with approved work related purposes, the Panel did not condone their use by:
- Cargo handling equipment operators whilst driving their machines at work or
- Any person, whether mobile or stationary, in a vehicle or on foot, anywhere in operational areas for whatever purpose.
As mentioned above, accidents are known to result from inappropriate use of such devices whilst at work, putting lives at risk, and operators may be exposed as both employers and occupiers of facilities. The TT Club strongly recommends that any company responsible for the operation of a facility should adopt a clear policy on the subject and take action to ensure that it is fully communicated to all staff and visitors, and strictly enforced.