6th April 2017
There are a wide range of hazards and dangers that workers face when operating in docks and ports. As you might expect it is one of the highest risk locations in any industry and operators and managers need to be constantly aware of the health and safety issues, putting in the processes and protection that reduce the likelihood of any accident.
As an island, the UK naturally has a large investment in port and dock infrastructure, with 560 million tonnes of cargo passing through these locations each year. The good news is that with better monitoring and tougher regulations, the number of accidents in the industry have remained fairly stable at about 180 per 100,000 workers.
According to the current statistics, accidents in ports and docks can happen in a variety of ways:
- They can be caused by operators slipping or tripping over.
- There’s the potential to be hit by a falling or moving object.
- An operator might fall from a structure.
- There may be injuries caused by inappropriate moving and handling practices.
There are also numerous contributory factors that can raise the risk of accidents occurring. Our ports are becoming busier and new machinery and processes are constantly being introduced. There may well be a failure on the part of owners to carry out the appropriate risk assessment and operations management when changing or updating procedures. Workers under increasing stress may even choose to ignore health and safety measures to get the job done.
The biggest group at risk in docks and ports are those who regularly work at height. For example, someone might fall while trying to gain access to a vessel via a gangway or ladder. Workers carrying out maintenance to platforms or next to dock areas and wharves might be at risk, particularly if appropriate guard rails aren’t in place.
Those working at height in docks and ports should be protected under the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and there are certain situations and measures that individuals and companies need to take into account and implement:
- What are the weather conditions and do these make it unsafe to work from height?
- Is the location where work is to be carried out safe and the footing secure?
- Have measures been taken to ensure that the area below has been cordoned off to protect people from falling objects?
- Do operators have the right equipment to do the job at hand?
There is a wide range of equipment available for those working at height, all of which can be used to maintain a consistent degree of health and safety. Operators need to make sure that protective measures are put in place. This includes training workers adequately so they are aware of the risks and know what equipment they should be using. Where needed, sites should have protective guardrails, fall restraint systems and personal protection measures in place before someone starts work.
The nature of working in a port or working dockside means that there are many difficult to work in shapes and spaces which can be difficult to include fall protection into. Fall-Pac has a range of lightweight fall protection options that can be used in these hard to reach places. Visit www.fall-pac.com for their range of great fall protection products.