TT Talk - Ports and terminals - managing third party personnel


There will be a range of people entering a port or terminal facility on a sporadic or temporary basis. Managing the safety of all third-party personnel who might not be familiar with your facility should be a high priority and can present additional challenges.

Operators recognise the value of investing in the safety of their personnel while they are working on the terminal. Strategies will commonly include toolbox talks, shift change over meetings and observational tours, all assisting in generating awareness of risk amongst employees and providing a safe working environment. Such strategies facilitate learning from incidents or near misses and a platform for all employees to voice concerns or challenge behaviours.  

Transparency is a key element where safety is concerned. Developing a blame-free culture and fostering an operational ethos to encourage reporting and learning from mistakes, incidents and near misses can be a productive approach. All such steps support a familiar safe environment where each person knows their responsibilities and the expectations of them. 

Visitors and contractors 

Where does this leave third parties? Regardless of whether they routinely enter the facility or only sporadically, effective management of these individuals is a critical component of terminal safety. These individuals will not be familiar with your operation–the moving components, the busy periods, the high-risk areas. The common safety strategies used for your own personnel will not apply. 

effective management of [third parties] is a critical component of terminal safety

Further, the way that third-party personnel behave while visiting your facility might also differ to that of your personnel. The level of care and diligence will be unpredictable, with some being content to cut a few corners. 

Site induction 

A thorough site induction is a prime opportunity to educate visitors and contractors – and positively influence their behaviour whilst visiting your facility. Recognising that an overly burdensome approach might be operationally problematic, introducing a balanced approach in which the individual can see value can be prudent. Conversely, a site induction that involves a 30-second video and the issuance of a site pass will communicate little of importance and value for the individual; the induction may be viewed as mere formality for access, rather than critical safety and security messaging.

A thorough site induction is a prime opportunity to educate visitors and contractors - and positively influence their behaviour whilst visiting your facility   

Nevertheless, videos are a great way of cramming a good level of detail about your facility into a short space of time, including emergency procedures and setting clear behavioural expectations. Other items could include speed limit, PPE requirements, permit to work, highlighting unprotected quay edges, smoking expectations, use of mobile phone, and an outline of the company drug and alcohol policy. 

Operators should consider embedding a qualification questionnaire following such a video to ensure that the detail has been absorbed and that the individual’s understanding is positively confirmed.  

Induction considerations 

If implementing a site access pass system to record and monitor entry, consider broader opportunities. It may be appropriate to maintain restricted areas within the facility, for which enhanced access control can be implemented. Further, passes can easily be time-bound, providing opportunity not just to revoke where necessary but also ensure that safety or security updates can be communicated effectively. Clearly, it may be possible to deploy more enhanced biometrics to improve controls further. 

Consider your visitors

Consider your visitors. Many terminal facilities are by their very nature international. It should be assumed that individuals coming on site may not understand the native language. Translation should be considered for all materials, including any signage around the facility; this need not be comprehensive, but take account of common local diversity. Indeed, the site induction process should be designed to identify those who are unable to read or understand local language.   

In a number of jurisdictions, entities are required to report unsafe incidents, accidents and injuries. These requirements vary, but there may be value in displaying the number of worked hours since the last reportable incident, often referred to as a lost time incident. Such a practice may build engagement overall and demonstrate the focus on safety at the facility to third parties. While there are counterarguments, a long period since the last reportable incident may induce more responsible behaviours. 

A further consideration may well be the implementation of 'access agreements'. The specifics may vary dependent on the nature of the individual's role, but apart from referencing the induction and agreement to abide by those contents may incorporate general terms and conditions.

Deployment of technology 

While it should not be employed in lieu of other strategies, technology may assist in managing safety at your facility. Operators are exploring the benefits of video analytics as a means of adding valuable rigour to existing processes; use of CCTV cameras to monitor behaviours and movements within the facility can be complemented by sophisticated analytics software to identify undesirable behaviours, near misses and trends.  

Such data can be invaluable when reviewing safety processes and procedures. Signage alerting to monitoring will influence behaviours, particularly where control actions are taken. Similarly the data can be used to good effect in tool box talks, future iterations of induction messaging and to challenge offenders to modify their behaviour while on site.   

Leading by example 

Your own personnel demonstrating a mature safety culture will be powerful. Any third party will necessarily engage with some of your own personnel, whether it be a security guard, a member of the engineering team or a handling equipment operator.  

Direct engagement with managers may be less likely, so any of your own personnel will convey the essential ‘DNA’, acting as your ambassadors for the investment made in safety and security. How they behave and act will influence the third party – for example, a visiting engineer being escorted by vehicle on site to the location of a piece of handling equipment will observe if signage or markings are diligently followed and likely behave in a similar way.  

It follows that acting decisively when any deficiency is observed is vital. Conversely, routinely overlooking failures fosters confusion, often leading to escalating risks because safety boundaries are uncertain. 

Implementing robust systems such as site inductions, behavioural observation tours and technology will promote safety and security on site. Intervention, where required, should be swift and consistent, including banning an individual from entering the site in future for more serious or continued offences.


If you would like further information, or have any comments, please email us, or take this opportunity to forward to any others who you may feel would be interested.


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Peregrine Storrs-Fox

Risk Management Director