TT Talk - Terminal safety is paramount

TT Talk - Terminal safety is paramount

The risk of injury at the work place should be of highest concern to any entity, but injuries still account for almost a third of insurance claims costs for ports and terminals according to TT Club analyses. Over 90% of these incidents are caused by operational issues, with a further 7% related to maintenance failures and less than 1% caused by natural events.

Perhaps unsurprisingly in the busy ‘industrial’ port environment, 85% of the cost of major injuries and fatalities are caused by the use of vehicles and heavy equipment. Of this, trucks and cars are involved in an alarming 30% – colliding with each other or fixed objects, overturning or hitting pedestrians. A further 23% of the injuries are caused through the use of lift trucks (reachstackers, forklifts etc), again striking pedestrians directly or through dropping loads onto people, in addition to them overturning. Similar incidents arise in straddle carrier operations, amounting to 13% in the analysis. Cranes (RTGs, RMGs etc) contribute 19%, mainly resulting from loads being dropped onto vehicles or pedestrians. In addition to these equipment related claims, the traditional trips, slips and falls amount to 13% of the value of insurance claims.

“in the busy ‘industrial’ port environment, 85% of the cost of major injuries and fatalities are caused by the use of vehicles and heavy equipment”

The galling truth is that the vast majority of these incidents are caused by human error and most are preventable by changed practices. Aside from the often tragic human consequences, these incidents are resource-intensive as management becomes necessarily involved in the substantial emotional, relational and reputational aspects of safety failings, let alone the potential for litigation and large settlements to the victims or their estates.

Pie chart

Detailed analysis of the incidents has repeatedly identified that focusing loss prevention on four specific issues materially mitigates the risks. Needless to say, technology can assist further; but dealing effectively with simple traffic management procedures, which cost disproportionately little, will save lives.

1. One-way traffic flows:
Implementing one-way traffic flows reduces collisions dramatically. The immediate perception may be that this will compromise productivity, but most facilities have found that not only do accidents reduce but productivity increases. Whatever physical constraints are in place, clear traffic demarcation is critical.

2. Limiting vehicles & pedestrians access
Reducing the number of third party or non-handling vehicles and pedestrians allowed into the terminal yard immediately minimises incidents; nobody should be allowed to roam unsupervised. It is strongly recommended that private vehicles are totally banned and that company vehicles have high visibility strips or colour and/or flashing lights.

Equally pedestrians should not be allowed on the terminal at any time; terminal staff and any other personnel should be transported in company vehicles. Procedures should also be adopted to limit the need for personnel in an operational yard. Ships’ crew must not be allowed to walk through the terminal; segregated access way or a dedicated vehicle/bus should be provided for personnel access to and from the ship. Further, security personnel should not be positioned on foot in the terminal; CCTV’s should be utilised and security personnel located in a control room.

Proper lighting, reflective stop signs and illuminated painted walkways additionally help reduce slips, trips and fall accidents in a terminal facility.

3. Site induction procedures for external truckers and visitors
The majority of serious injuries in a terminal facility are incurred by external truckers; often it is because they do not know or follow safety procedures. A site induction procedure should be provided to anyone entering the terminal. The induction should cover terminal emergency plans, where to go, where not to go, etc. A sign at the gate is not adequate. Ideally, face-to-face training is provided for all external truckers similar to the training given to terminal staff. Truckers can then be given photo identity stating the date he was inducted and a period of validity. Access to the terminal without this card would then be impossible and refresher training can be provided as appropriate. Web based inductions are becoming popular and can include tests and appropriate validations. Ad hoc truckers (eg. long haul) should be given a yard map showing traffic flows, specific sections – chassis, reefer, maintenance etc – and clear directions for both dropping off and picking up cargo to prevent confusion or wandering.

4. A safe area for truckers to lock and unlock trailer/chassis twistlocks 
Within container terminals, it is generally recommended that truckers do not alight from their cab anywhere within the terminal stacking yard where cranes, straddle carriers or lift trucks are operating. However, truckers need to alight to lock and unlock the trailer/chassis twistlocks; the facility should provide an appropriate safe area within its perimeter, but away from the operational yard, where only external trucks are allowed to stop briefly for this purpose. The exception to this is for straddle operations, where truckers should alight and stand in a designated safe area while the straddle is placing or removing a container from the trailer/chassis.

All procedures must be enforced consistently in order to maintain a strong defensible position.

While incidents often result from human error, their volume is determined by how well safety systems and procedures are implemented. At heart, this is reflective of the culture of an organisation, controlled by management. Improving safety is multifaceted, recognising that humans are prone to make mistakes; no amount of training will eliminate all errors. Hence, the long term aim should be to identify safer procedures and re-design or include new technology solutions to reduce the reliance on training.

TT Club seeks to work closely with the industry to determine the root cause of incidents and identify actions that prevent or minimise recurrence. Sharing information that is common to all terminal operations highlights the importance of safety safeguards life and improves operational efficiency. Valuable reference documents include guidance produced in the UK by Port Skills & Safety with the Health & Safety Executive and representatives of the national ports industry and the forthcoming TT Club, ICHCA & PEMA joint information paper ‘Collision Prevention @ Ports & Terminals’. If you would like to receive this latter document, please register interest with

We hope that you have found the above interesting. If you would like further information, or have any comments, please email us, or take this opportunity to forward to any colleagues who you may feel would be interested.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Peregrine Storrs-Fox
Risk Management Director, TT Club

Through Transport Mutual Insurance Association Limited and TT Club Mutual Insurance Limited, trading as the TT Club. TT Club Mutual Insurance Limited, registered in the UK (Company number: 02657093) is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated in the UK by the Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulation Authority. In Hong Kong, TT Club Mutual Insurance Limited is authorised and regulated by the Hong Kong Insurance Authority, in Singapore by the Monetary Authority of Singapore and in Australia by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority. In the United States, TT Club Mutual Insurance Limited is approved as a surplus lines insurer in all states and is accessible through properly licensed surplus lines brokers. The registered offices are: 90 Fenchurch Street, London, EC3M 4ST.

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