TT Talk - Mobile phones and mobile cranes don’t mix

In recent months a number of claims have been reported to the Club arising from collisions involving cranes, RTGs, straddle carriers, fork-lift trucks and other handling equipment. In several of them, it is thought that the driver had been distracted by using a mobile (cell) phone in the cab; in one instance, unbelievably, in composing a text message.

It is widely recognised that the use of mobile phones is a dangerous distraction; in many countries people are banned from using them while driving on the public highway. The risks to operators of heavy machinery have possibly been less recognised up to now, maybe because the drivers themselves are relatively isolated in cabs where they cannot be observed, maybe because these lumbering giants are not perceived to present the same kind of risk as a fast-moving car. Yet the dangers are real, and the consequences can be severe: in one case a straddle carrier toppled over as the result of a collision, seriously injuring the driver.

Stevedores and other personnel working on the terminal are also at risk - or they could put their workmates' lives in jeopardy - if they are distracted from their job by a mobile phone. Handling containers requires constant all-round observation and attention to the working environment: it is not the time to be involved in discussions about domestic matters or after-work activities.

The Club is recommending all members to review their own working practices relating to employees' use of mobile phones, and to consider introducing procedures to discourage or prohibit their use in operational areas.