ICHCA Webinar: Technology can drive port safety but staff training and buy-in are critical to safe working practices

ICHCA Webinar: Technology can drive port safety but staff training and buy-in are critical to safe working practices

Advances in technology have played a significant role in improving port worker safety, as highlighted in a recent webinar on port safety hosted by the International Cargo Handling Coordination Association (ICHCA) and Port Technology International (PTI).

The webinar, titled “How to Innovate for Workplace Safety in Ports and Terminals“, brought together industry experts who emphasized the importance of technological innovation coupled with collective commitment from all stakeholders to ensure the safety of port users.

During the webinar, ICHCA CEO Richard Steele shared a startling statistic: since the year 2000, there have been 354 shore-based fatalities, including 349 port workers and 20 truckers, worldwide.

These figures underscore the urgent need for the cargo industry to actively seek ways to enhance health and safety measures, building on successful practices while exploring new approaches to address risks.

Steele emphasized the significance of establishing common good practices within the industry and encouraged industry leaders to serve as champions, modelling these values and fostering a culture of high standards across the board.

This collective effort is vital to ensure the well-being of all port users.

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Evert Bulcke, CEO of safety and sustainability advisors Rombit, highlighted the positive impact of technology within drivers’ cabs.

By utilising digital tools that continuously remind drivers to perform their tasks safely, accidents can be significantly reduced, with potential declines of up to 80 per cent said Bulcke.

He further stressed that comprehensive training and procedural frameworks, supported by ongoing digital tools and alerts, are key to the success of these innovations.

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In addition to improving safety, such advancements in technology also yield financial benefits. Bulcke pointed out that innovations like real-time digital coaching can lead to a reduction of approximately $5,000 per vehicle per year in maintenance, energy, and repair costs.

The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that training and the application of digital tools could prevent around 70 per cent of lift and crane accidents.

Steve Biggs, a Senior Assistant for the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), emphasized the importance of involving staff in the process of implementing changes to work practices.

Gaining their “buy-in” ensures that new technological solutions and work practices are successfully embraced.

Steele echoed this sentiment, acknowledging that while the International Maritime Organization (IMO) provides excellent international regulations, regulatory frameworks become more complex once national borders are crossed.

Thus, the industry itself has an ongoing responsibility to demonstrate leadership in health and safety for all stakeholders.

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The consensus among webinar participants was that all stakeholders, both within the terminal gates and external parties entering the port, must be fully aware of and actively involved in safe working practices.

Lee James, a Health and Safety Manager at DP World’s terminal in Southampton, emphasized the importance of explaining the rationale behind changes to prevent resistance to what may initially be perceived as unnecessary.

Constant reinforcement of safety rules is crucial, alongside visible and effective health and safety leadership from management to the shop floor. Technological advancements that generate data and monitor safety performance can complement these efforts.

To encourage further innovation in this area, ICHCA will launch the annual TT Club Innovation in Safety awards on 4 September this year, with details on entry criteria to be announced soon.

ICHCA and PTI announced their partnership in March 2023.

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