In this post you'll learn
Docking is a high-risk industry. The work environment is challenging, and the job often requires workers to do their jobs with heavy equipment despite extreme weather conditions. Workers in seaports and docks must be prepared to work through the day and night, communicate effectively with international colleagues, and understand safety procedures which can vary depending on what country they are working in.
Port work often involves a number of different employers and contractors, all of who can affect each other’s activities. These may include harbor authorities, port operators, stevedoring firms, haulers (transport companies), ships’ masters, and crew.
Due to the complex nature of this industry with many workers doing professionally or semi-professionally hazardous jobs in close proximity to one another, it is important that these businesses have strong health & safety systems in place. These should ensure co-operation between their employees as well as coordinating communication across them all so they are able to be more productive on-site without compromising anyone else’s safety.
The use of machinery to load and unload ships at ports can be a dangerous job. Workers often take significant risks when the equipment used isn’t up to par with industry standards or is poorly planned, leading to injuries such as falling loads that crush them or co-workers who are crushed by moving objects.
Poorly executed lifting operations lead workers into potential harm’s way. Accidents have occurred because of failure to plan to lift properly, falling loads, or the worker being crushed by a moving load or machinery in use. Ideally, these hazards would never happen if one ensures they have appropriate materials for their jobs using gantry cranes, slewing cranes, forklift trucks–the list goes on!
Even the simplest lifting operations can be risky if you’re not careful. To reduce your risks, use suitable equipment to lift cargo securely and plan for any contingencies that may arise while on-site or in transit.
All employees should have appropriate training so they know what hazards are involved with said tasks as well as how to avoid them without sacrificing safety. Supervisors must also stay up-to-date on all regulations about safe work practices at every stage of production from planning through completion.
According to a study by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, port workers are being exposed to diesel particulate matter. This includes soot primarily formed from carbon, sulfates, and silicates that may cause symptoms such as headache or eye irritation in the short term.
Longer exposure will increase one’s risk for cardiovascular disease (among others) including heart problems like arrhythmias; cardiopulmonary diseases including chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, atrial fibrillation, and respiratory disorders caused by asthma.
Oxygen and nitrogen gases are toxic to the respiratory system. The temporary dockworkers in this study were exposed to these gases, which can damage your airways leading you down a path towards Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (DPOC).
Some of the most exposed workers to occupational hazards are those who perform shore handling activities, all performed at the pier. This environment exposes these individuals to many sources like ionizing radiation, wind, and humidity just to name a few.
Occupational nurses need an understanding that environmental factors affect people’s health so they know what interventions or actions must be taken when it comes time for them to carry out the necessary tasks assigned by employers and government agencies such as OSHA Standards.
The Code of Practice for Health and Safety in Dock Work stresses the importance of avoiding fatigue. Fatigue means a state that can be caused by many factors like; long hours, shift work, or inadequate rest which will result in a decline in alertness as well as performance among other things including slowed movements and reactions.
Port operations can be unpredictable and dangerous, requiring extensive hours to keep up. Shift work is also often required with the possibility of fatigue from extended periods on the clock. Port employers are responsible for ensuring that workers exhibiting signs of fatigue don’t take part in cargo handling or face danger.
Managers need education about sleep needs as well as the dangers associated with fatigued employees operating machinery around ships and port equipment which could cause injury due to mistakes made when exhausted such as misreading measurements or mishandling heavy objects near hazardous materials like fuel barrels.
Entering a confined space to carry out work activities is only allowed if it’s not reasonably possible to do so without entering. If that does happen, the risks of safety and health must be carefully evaluated before going ahead with any activity in such an area.
A confined space refers to any place that creates conditions that give rise to an accident. The potential for this is increased if the atmosphere within becomes flammable, explosive, and harmful with gas fumes or vapors present as well.
Even when there are no hazardous factors, confined sites in ports need to have proper safety equipment and also to be mindful enough about the workers’ surroundings so they don’t get caught unaware during emergencies caused by oxygen deficiency or excessive levels reaching toxic proportions.
Port workers are at risk of hazardous exposure due to oxygen depletion in the cargo holds and confined spaces, toxic gases emitted by the cargo such as hydrogen sulfide (H2S), carbon monoxide (CO), and carbon dioxide (CO 2 ), the release of solvent or other vapors from recently manufactured contents, leaking packages, hoses or pipelines during welding activities. Exposure can also be caused when there is a failure to ventilate adequately after the previous fumigation.
A ship’s cargo hold can become a dangerous space due to toxic gases or oxygen deprivation, depending on the type of goods and conditions. There are also dangers for those aboard if freight containers have not been properly ventilated after fumigation treatments–especially because substances leak into them from time to time.
The SAGA SPRAY accident in 2006
The SAGA SPRAY had been in the port of Helsingborg to discharge wood pellets. The discharging would have gone without issue until a front-end loader was put down into the second last cargo hold, and collected remaining pellets that were difficult to reach from the wharf with a crane.
A bulldozer operator and a crew member were both overcome by carbon monoxide in the hold’s stairwell. The worker died, but thankfully his colleague was able to make it out alive with help from other workers.
Some root causes of the fire were non-compliance with BC Code (now IMSB code) regarding hazards of wood pellets by ship, no compliance to ship’s safety management system, and crew members assumed that because access way was open for 40 hours then it had been ventilated.
On top of this cargo handlers also made assumptions about how much care crews took to ensure their security but they failed too.
Falls, slips, and trips
The most common injuries that come from slips and trips on ports are minor, but they can lead to broken or dislocated bones. Wet surfaces mixed with icy conditions in the winter make for a slippery surface; poorly stored ropes, cables, lashing gear, and equipment create tripping hazards as well.
The risk of injury is exacerbated by inadequate lighting around corners where accidents happen more often than expected due to poor housekeeping practices such as leaving debris laying about. Clean up your port!
The first step to preventing slip and trip accidents is to maintain the flooring at all times, ensuring that no contaminants are seeping onto it. Housekeeping in general also has a huge impact on how safe your workplace is – you want people who can see any potential hazards before they happen!
As a conclusion to this article, safety at ports and docks is a team effort. The more people that are on the lookout for potential hazards, the better off you all will be.
Safe ports help to make for efficient ports which are well-positioned to support our economy and create employment through export-led growth. Ports and docks can be hazardous workplaces, so precautions in the form of risk assessments must be carried out before any work regrettably takes place there.
Every port has its own unique features but hazards such as those found on ships or other common workplace dangers manifest themselves uniquely at every dock facility because they must contend with things like unique physical configurations and a range of activities from one day to the next – all this while working within close proximity of heavy machinery, flammable materials, etc., always taking care not cause harm by accident!