Safety paramount to port industry leaders

There has been a 57% decrease in reportable accidents in BPA safety data that stretches back 17 years, but there has been a notable plateau in improvements over the past five to six years Photo: Oluwaseun Duncan/Pexels/Pexels License There has been a 57% decrease in reportable accidents in BPA safety data that stretches back 17 years, but there has been a notable plateau in improvements over the past five to six years Photo: Oluwaseun Duncan/Pexels/Pexels License
Industry Database

Key figures at the UK’s two biggest port associations have spoken out about the importance of safety.

At the UK Ports Conference, British Ports Association (BPA) chief executive Richard Ballantyne spoke of a “‘safety plateau’”, while United Kingdom Major Ports Group (UKMPG) vice chair David Brown stated that safety should be the job of everyone, not just the job of a chief executive or safety officer.

According to Mr Ballantyne, there has been a 57% decrease in reportable accidents in BPA safety data that stretches back 17 years, but there has been a notable plateau in improvements over the past five to six years.

“We’ve achieved 57%, but now we are getting to the human, cultural and decision-making factors,” he said.

“People don’t get punished for non-compliance until there is an accident.”

Mr Brown, whose UKMPG role has a particular focus on safety, health and skills, said at the conference that “everyone is a safety officer” and called for teams “to report near-misses”, arguing that improvement can be made after risk has been reported.

“You need to teach moral courage: doing what is right, not what is easy,” he stressed.

The vice chair — additionally the chief executive of The Bristol Port Company — also indicated his scepticism of people who claim that safety is their highest priority, saying: “Safety is all about the people.”

UKMPG wants to develop a health, safety, security and environment plan for the ports sector, he explained. “We can all learn from each other as nobody has the monopoly on good safety ideas,” Mr Brown noted. “It’s taking incremental steps and learning from each other.”

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