Thursday, January 10, 2013

Container Handling Safety Standards Recommended to Freight and Shipping Interests

Three Cargo Industry Bodies Publish Minimum Requirements
Shipping News Feature

WORLDWIDE – When the economy is at a low point sometimes health and safety standards take a lower priority than they should and the shipping industry is a sector where such a policy can result in tragic consequences. Recently three bodies concerned with improved risk management in ports and freight handling facilities published the second edition of their recommended safety standards for container yard equipment. TT Club, Port Equipment Manufacturers Association (PEMA) and the International Cargo Handling Co-ordination Association (ICHCA) have identified additional safety devices that can be implemented on yard equipment, along with other operational changes in order to reduce injuries and fatalities as well as cargo, property and equipment damage.

The impetus for the joint publication, entitled Recommended Minimum Safety Features for Container Yard Equipment, came from global analysis of more than 4,000 claims, each valued above $10,000, made over a six-year period by port and terminal operators insured with the TT Club. The analysis revealed that 53% of the total cost of claims and 75% of the cost of injury claims related to yard equipment. Additionally, 67% of costs related to fires were attributed to yard equipment. Laurence Jones, TT Club’s Director of Global Risk Assessment commented:

“These headline findings point to a heavy concentration of avoidable incidents. Analysis of the Club’s data shows that up to 1,600 claims amounting to $130 million resulted from such incidents. Changes to operational procedure, additional training and/or fitting safety equipment to machinery could significantly reduce this bill.”

As an example, lift trucks were involved in 30% of bodily injury claims analysed, mainly as a result of trucks reversing into people. The simple installation of collision prevention devices could potentially have saved $30 million and prevented 51 workers from being killed or suffering serious injury over the six-year period.

In the new document, the three organisations have pooled the respective expertise of their members to identify ways that port and terminal operators can minimise yard safety risks by adopting equipment features and technologies proven to reduce injury or damage. The document covers all major types of container yard crane and mobile equipment, including rubber tyre gantry cranes (RTGs), rail-mounted gantry cranes (RMGs), automated stacking cranes (ASC), straddle carriers, lift trucks and reach stackers, Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) and terminal tractors.

Preventative measures being highlighted include the installation of reliable safety devices which whilst readily available and proven, are not commonly part of standard specifications. The TT Club advises that adoption of the recommendations must essentially go hand in hand with the application of other safe practices including controlled traffic flow arrangements and speed limits. Nevertheless, the document will assist in assessing the risks involved in the choices concerning the appropriate type of equipment to be deployed. Jones continued with an example of a typical risk, saying:

“Most fires in yard equipment are caused by fuel or hydraulic leaks in the engine compartment. Efficient servicing and cleaning procedures, the use of only good quality hydraulic hoses and fittings and the installation of effective fire suppression systems can almost eradicate these occurrences. An effective fire suppression system costing from $ 1,000 to $5,000 could prevent the write-off of the equipment, such as a lift truck valued up to $ 500,000, and the risk of serious injury.”

The three organisations stress that international, national and local regulations are mandatory, while these recommendations are voluntary. The three bodies also recognise that technology alone will not eradicate all incidents and that installation of safety equipment and systems should always be adopted in parallel with routines, training, effective maintenance and good yard design and operations. However, the hope is that these minimum recommended safety features will be adopted generally by equipment suppliers and buyers both on new and existing equipment to improve safety levels at the world’s ports and terminal handling facilities. In conclusion Stephan Stiehler, Chair of the PEMA Safety Committee said:

“Working together, we have produced a document that we feel offers unique value to the global container handling industry to define where and how safety levels could be increased”.