PREVENTING stevedore injuries and deaths
is gaining urgency now that at least 16 dock workers and 12 seafarers
perished in confined-space related accidents between January 2018 and
May 2019, according to the International Transport Federation. A total of 145 casualties were reported over the last 20 years.
The problem has been exacerbated by the
growing diversity of seafarers on board with limited language skills,
plus limited labour skills among local dockers. The issue is often
encountered in emerging countries where personnel is hired by private
enterprises or where applying health and safety policies in practice are
"Responsible shipowners - particularly those calling at smaller
breakbulk destinations with limited onshore handing equipment - are
regularly confronted by unprotected dockers with limited training
expected to perform rigorous manual tasks during both geared and
non-geared loading and unloading operations.
"The stevedores are not only at risk. Quite often it's the seafarers on
board who are most at risk of injury due to a mistake by a stevedore,"
said partner Erik Green of Danish marine safety experts Green-Jakobsen.
To combat the risk of injury of death as well as the potential paralysis
of operations that prevents ships from departing, shipowners are
beginning to engage with the ports they regularly call at together with
their contractors to create a safer operating environment.
One such operator China Navigation Company, a member of the Swire Group.
It has embarked on a project to address these issues it is faced with
when calling at some of the smaller island Pacific ports with its liner
and tramp services.
"It was only after the exploratory phase engaging with fleet management,
officers, ratings, harbour masters, port authorities and stevedores
themselves at multiple locations that the complexities emerged,"
explained Mr Green.
The project is now entering into implementation phase, and is one of the
first of its kind to be initiated proactively by a shipowner rather
than a port authority or terminal operator.
IAPH managing director Patrick Verhoeven added: "Cooperation and
interaction between shipowner-operators, ports, terminal operators and
their service providers are very much needed in this area of safety at
the quayside. It is another demonstration of the need for closer
collaboration between shipowners, ports and port service providers on an