TT Talk - Safety first - the need for good induction procedures

The 'safety first' message seems to be getting through. At industry conferences, TT Club has often felt alone speaking about safety - and the subject itself has frequently been accommodated at the end of the schedule. In that context at least, safety definitely did not come first. Happily, the culture in operations and at conferences seems to have changed.

It has not been uncommon in the past, for the observant visitor to a terminal facility to notice a prominent sign placed at the main gate alerting to the need for safety or lauding the implemented safety culture. The reality, once past the gate though, could well have appeared quite different. In too many instances it would seem that operational requirements and pressures took precedence, and safety was forgotten.

Happily, things have largely changed. The industry is now openly discussing safety, both within operations and also at trade events - even where economics may be the key strategic issue for many. For the most part, operators have been won over by the evidence that safety not only save lives but also improves productivity and profitability; the safest terminals can be demonstrated to be the most efficient and productive.

"apart from improvements to an operational 'bottom line', there are many very good reasons for a management to focus on saving lives"

Of course, apart from improvements to an operational 'bottom line', there are many very good reasons for a management to focus on saving lives. However, even with a noticeable cultural shift, people continue to be injured. Unfortunately injuries and fatalities will not simply disappear overnight. There is still much work to be done on safety awareness, implementing safer procedures and installing safer technologies and equipment. Analysis by the TT Club of incidents occurring within the port environment indicates that 80% of injury and fatality costs are caused by operators of handling equipment and other vehicles. All too often pedestrians are run over by trucks or struck by reversing handling equipment. Other common incidents on terminals include truck overturns, and containers being dislodged from the stack and landing on trucks or pedestrians.

Technology may help, induction training is critical
While the root causes of such incidents are varied and complex, the installation of technology can help - rear view cameras and anti-collision sensors on mobile equipment; RFID (radio frequency identification) tags attached to protective equipment supplied to pedestrians and installed on mobile equipment; stack profiling on cranes to prevent them striking containers. All of these will prevent incidents, as will procedures such as one-way traffic flows, limiting vehicles and pedestrians in the yard, and mandating a safe area for truckers to open and close twistlocks. These are all matters that the Club has highlighted previously. Fundamental, however, is enforcing good site safety induction procedures.

Induction works best in reducing incidents because it is third parties in terminals that are most at risk.  The statistics show that external truck drivers are the ones who are injured most commonly. They enter danger areas or alight from their trucks when and where they shouldn't. Reliance on signage at the main gate is insufficient; familiarity or momentary inattention may render such signs ineffective, and it is unfortunate indeed if this only becomes apparent during litigation. Adequate site safety inductions for everyone entering the facility are required. It is equally important, of course, not to neglect regular safety training for employees, alongside consistent enforcement.

"Adequate site safety inductions for everyone entering the facility are required"

Subject to the size and complexity of the facility, such induction is best achieved face to face, through a training course similar to those provided to employees at the terminal facility. This can most readily be implemented for drivers who regularly are presenting themselves at the terminal. On completion of the course, and following success in a closing test, drivers should receive a card with their name, photo, training date and, importantly, an expiry date. The process also requires that drivers are denied entry without a valid card. 

An alternative, where face to face is impractical in the scenario that too many drivers are irregular or 'one-off' visitors, can be installation of computer terminal kiosks. Here, drivers complete on-line type training via a Q&A, which verifies understanding and produces a printed slip, itself required to gain entry. An effective variant on this, when on-site training courses are impractical, may be to require those planning to visit a terminal to complete an on-line safety training course and then print a certificate with which to gain entry. The flaw in the variant is the inability to verify identity.

Safety culture needs consistent enforcement
Proper induction procedures will help minimise accidents regardless of the size of facility. Furthermore, should a serious injury or fatality occur, where appropriate induction procedures are in place the terminal operator is likely to face reduced exposure to workplace safety penalties and an improved defensive position for any compensation claim.

"A thorough safety culture will equally ensure that all those on site comply with procedures"

The main aim remains to prevent injuries of all kinds. No visitor should enter a terminal without receiving a proper safety induction. Employees and contractors deserve parallel safety treatment and enforcement. A sign at the gate, perhaps viewed as better than nothing, is not adequate. Controlling access to those who are trained, whether face to face or by other means, is really necessary for what should be considered as 'industrial' sites. A thorough safety culture will equally ensure that all those on site comply with procedures.

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

Staff Author

TT Club