TT Talk - Container terminals: benchmarking accident statistics

The International Safety Panel of the International Cargo Handling Co-ordination Association (ICHCA) was set up in 1990 and currently has 38 members across nineteen countries and international organisations. The TT Club is a member and has taken a very positive role in the panel's activities. This involvement continues with Andrew Webster, our Loss Prevention Manager acting as one of the three deputy chairmen.

ICHCA International's role is to represent cargo handling interests at international level and to inform and advise its members wherever necessary; the panel's role is to carry out that function as far as health and safety is concerned. It was in that context that it devised, in 1998, the concept that a specialised cargo handling terminal should be able to benchmark itself, in terms of accidents, against similar terminals in other parts of the world. Although the concept could equally apply to any type of specialised terminal, it was decided to start with container terminals. Trials were held in 1998 and 1999 with a number of interested facilities. As a result of the feedback received, the panel decided to offer the scheme to the container handling industry for the year 2000 and, thanks to the level of participation, has authorised its continuance through to this year.

The panel, which is composed of experts in various aspects of marine cargo handling, was well aware of the confidential nature of the data concerned. This was made a key factor and, as a result, operation of the scheme has been entrusted to one person - the panel chairman, Mike Compton. He keeps the information safe and sound, and does not even reveal it to other members of the panel. The chairman alone makes the calculations and only the participants receive the benchmark figures; each participant only gets its own assessment.

Mike is a well known person in international port and cargo handling circles, having roles with the International Association of Ports & Harbors (IAPH) and the International Labor Organization (ILO) as well as ICHCA International.

The aim of the scheme is to enable a participating container terminal to compare its safety record against an international benchmark figure and, if there are sufficient participants, a national and regional figure as well. There are participants in all five continents and, as participation has increased, it has proved to be possible to create national and regional figures in a number of areas. This scheme should be seen as another part of the very necessary management assessment of how a terminal is performing. Apart from the human side, which must be the first consideration, accidents can cost a great deal of money and management time: constant attention to them will repay the investment.

The benchmark figure is expressed as the number of accidents per 100,000 TEUs handled. All container terminals are treated the same, irrespective of

size, method of work, equipment etc. In each of the years of the full scheme the participation level (measured in TEUs) has increased substantially; the contributions for 2003 - with many more still expected - have already exceeded the previous year's. It is, therefore, a mature scheme respected and used by container terminals around the world. As a matter of interest, the panel is currently considering with the dry bulk terminal industry extending the concept to their operations.

Currently, participation is invited for the year 2003 and TT Club recommends that those members who may be interested should respond (terminals do not have to be a member of ICHCA International to take part in the scheme). It has deliberately been kept simple and needs only two pieces of information:

  • the number of accidents causing absence from work for more than one day

  • the number of TEUs handled

The information obtained can be very useful. Send your data or any queries to It is expected that the benchmark figures will be given to participants in August or September this year, once all the contributions have been analysed.

Staff Author

TT Club