Preventing Single-Person Incidents at Ports and Terminals
Single-person incidents such as slips, trips and falls are a major cause of injuries at ports and terminals globally. This article summarises key data and insights from a recent webinar hosted by TT Club on mitigating risks from single-person incidents at ports and terminals.
TT Club Claims Analysis
According to TT Club's claims analysis data, single-person incidents accounted for 5% of total claim costs for port and terminal operators over a 5 year period from 2017-2021. The data showed these incidents are mainly classified as slips, trips and falls. When work and home injuries are combined, slips, trips and falls are the biggest cause of bodily injuries overall.
Types of Single-Person Incidents
- Common single-person incidents at ports and terminals include:
- Slipping on wet floors
- Tripping on debris or objects lying around
- Falling on stairs
- Falling from ladders
- Falling while working at heights
Such incidents can happen to anyone, anywhere, at any time. Stairs were a major risk area highlighted, with advice given that handrails should always be used when going up or down stairs to prevent falls.
Industry Data on Injuries
Industry data from a Northern European country covering approximately 90% of port and terminal workers showed that slips, trips and falls accounted for nearly 25% of reported incidents causing an absence from work of 1 day or more. Other major causes were lifting/carrying and being hit by objects.
Over 80% of injuries occurred in operational areas like berths, container vessels, and terminal roads. The body parts most frequently injured were the back, fingers, ankles, and legs.
Important actions port and terminal operators can take to mitigate single-person incident risks include:
- Ensuring regular safety training and refresher training for all workers
- Daily toolbox talks to reinforce safety awareness
- Provision of proper PPE and ensuring compliance with usage policies
- Conducting safety walks and audits, involving frontline workers
- Ensuring adherence to safe work procedures like permit to work systems
- Addressing factors like worker fatigue and well-being that can impact safety
- Maintaining good housekeeping and cleaning standards
Housekeeping in particular was emphasised as a vital factor, with cleaner and tidier work areas found to result in safer and more efficient operations.
While training and education alone cannot prevent all incidents, port and terminal operators need robust systems, procedures and leadership in place to minimise single-person incident risks. Maintaining high standards of housekeeping and workplace hygiene is critical. Worker well-being also needs to be considered as personal issues can negatively impact safety behaviours. With greater focus on these areas, injuries from slips, trips and falls can be reduced.