Memorandum by the Ports' Safety Organisation
OPPORTUNITIES AND DEVELOPMENT PROSPECTS AT
1.1 The Ports' Safety Organisation welcomes
the opportunity to assist the Transport Sub-Committee in its inquiry
into Opportunities and Development Prospects at Major Ports.
1.2 The Ports' Safety Organisation (PSO)
was established in 1992 and represents the ports of Britain and
Ireland on health and safety matters. All other subjects, including
professional marine matters and environmental concerns are dealt
with by the other industry trade associationsBritish Ports
Association, UK Association of Private Terminal Operators and
UK Major Ports Group. General training is dealt with by the NTO
for the industry British Ports Industry Training Ltd. Safety in
port workplaces, therefore, which is the subject of Chapter 4.1
of Modern Ports comes fully within the PSO's remit.
1.3 This Memorandum has been prepared by
PSO and has been written as a supplement to Chapter 4.1 of Modern
Ports. It aims to give a fuller explanation of how the industry
is organised for health and safety and to indicate how the industry
proposes to respond to the recent Government initiatives.
2.1 It has always been recognised that dock
operations have inherent dangers.
2.2 The first set of Docks Regulations was
adopted in 1904 following a comprehensive report by the Factory
Inspectorate written in 1899. This was the first set of such Regulations
made anywhere in the world.
2.3 Further Regulations followed in 1925,
1934 and 1988, the last two reflecting international standards
adopted by the International Labour Office (ILO).
2.4 In the last 40 years the ports and shipping
industries have been the subject of a complete revolution in the
way in which cargo is packaged, handled and carried by sea and
this has had a profound effect on all aspects of port operations
including health and safety issues.
2.5 Development of freight containers, roll
on-roll off movements, packaged timber and other cargo handling
improvements has led to a very different type of port area. This
has a very different operational scenario and very different hazards
2.6 The port and shipping industries started
a process of dynamic change that has continued throughout the
past 40 years and is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.
That process, of necessity, has involved, and will continue to
involve, health and safety issues.
2.7 At the same time, general expectations
regarding health and safety at work have increased and there is
a much higher profile for the subject now than there was 40 years
ago. This has affected the ports industry as much as any other.
2.8 A further development has been the increasing
modernisation of health and safety workplace laws, coupled with
the adoption of a range of relevant Directives by the European
Union and their subsequent reflection in UK statutes. Most of
these general health and safety laws have application in a port
2.9 This has resulted in a considerable
number of new or revised health and safety workplace laws, each
of which has to be considered at the consultation stage (sometimes
pre-consultation as well) before being assimilated and compliance
achieved once adopted.
2.10 The consequence for the ports industry
has been greatly increased health and safety activity across the
board and a great deal of effort has been made throughout the
industry at all levels to contain and to reduce accidents.
2.11 The changes in working methods and
the increased efforts to reduce accidents have together resulted
in current accident rates being about 30 per cent of what they
were 30 years ago.
2.12 Nevertheless, it is accepted that there
is still room for improvement. The joint initiatives posed by
the Government's Revitalising Health and Safety Strategy Statement
and Modern Ports are, accordingly, welcomed and we will
be glad to cooperate with them.
3.1 The industry has a strong organisation
for health and safety based upon three elementsthe National
Health and Safety Committee (NHSC), the safety specialists' group
(APO's Group) and the Ports' Safety Organisation (PSO).
3.2 Although there have been several reviews
of its remit, composition and activity, the NHSC has continued
since 1965, when it was first established.
3.3 It meets every six months in London
and its core membership consists of four line managers, four full
time safety advisers and four trades union officials. Both HSE,
MCA and more recently DETR have ex officio positions and HSE has
accepted that NHSC is equivalent to its Industrial Advisory Committees.
3.4 The APO's Group consists of full time
safety staff and those who have a special responsibility for safety
in addition to other responsibilities. It has regular meetings,
with the 79th having been held in Grimsby on 10 January 2001.
A total of 59 persons attended, including the national HSE official
dealing with docks.
3.5 Three such meetings are held around
the UK every year with attendances regularly totally over 40 people.
The meetings are very proactive, practical and participative and
it is worth noting that HSE officials have commented on the openness
of the industry in regard to sharing accident, dangerous occurrence
and prevention experiences so that the industry as a whole may
3.6 The third element in the organisation
and arrangements is the PSO. This was set up at the end of 1992
at the specific request of many members of the British Ports Federation
(which was then in the process of being wound-up).
3.7 PSO is a non-profit private limited
company, dedicated solely to the cause of health and safety in
the ports industry. It is totally independent, funded solely by
the industry and acts as a trade association. It currently employs
3.8 Its prime function is to consult and
represent the industry to Government Departments and Agencies,
to inform and advise, to offer specific safety related training
courses and publications and to operate a technical information
and advice service.
3.9 It organises the NHSC and APO meetings,
standing work groups, special work groups, panels, first aid competitions
and conferences and safety related courses, conferences, workshops,
seminars and presentations. It publishes a monthly Executive Update
for all Chief Executives, a bi-monthly newsletter for all members,
regular information papers for full members (1,183 issued in the
period 1993-2000) and a variety of pocket cards, advice leaflets,
booklets and other documents. It also offers short term consultancy
services to members. It currently has 137 member companies covering
between them over 250 ports and port companies.
3.10 Apart from a small number in the Irish
Republic and a smaller number in other countries, the membership
consists of port authorities, stevedores, terminal operators,
cargo handling companies, shipping companies with shore based
operations, labour supply companies, training companies and container
bases operating in the UK.
3.11 PSO's funding is derived solely from
the industry, with members' subscriptions on an annual basis being
supplemented by training, publications and consultancy activities.
3.12 PSO works closely with HSE at various
levels, and to a lesser extent MCA, and it is believed that a
partnership approach to health and safety in the port industry
has existed for a number of years.
3.13 PSO also liaises closely with other
Trade Associations in the ports industry.
3.14 It is believed that this arrangement
is unique within industry generally.
3.15 In addition to these national activities,
considerable efforts are being made all the time by individual
companies to improve safety.
3.16 The consequence of all of these arrangements
is that there is significantly more health and safety activity
in the ports industry now than probably at any time in the past.
3.17 PSO is also involved with international
work involving the UN Agencies ILO and IMO, the International
Association of Ports and Harbours, the International Standards
Organisation and the International Cargo Handling Coordination
Association. It is also involved with the Federation of European
Private Terminal Operators based in Brussels.
3.18 This involvement enables PSO to monitor
and influence relevant international rules and standards and to
keep its members fully informed of relevant activities.
3.19 It is, accordingly, believed that there
are structures in place to enable the health and safety situation
to be improved. There has existed for some years a close partnership
between the industry and HSE/MCA and we welcome the support which
Modern Ports has given to those arrangements.
4. FUTURE DEVELOPMENTS
4.1 The comprehensive national effort detailed
above will continue.
4.2 At the same time, the new Government
initiatives are welcomed and a strategy has been adopted to plan
a proper response.
4.3 A high level Conference is being organised
by PSO involving the Deputy Prime Minister and senior officials
from DETR, HSC and HSE. This is aimed at Directors and senior
managers in the industry and will be held on 12 March 2001.
4.4 An overall strategy for responding to
the twin challenge of the Revitalising Strategy Statement
and Modern Ports has been approved by the NHSC. The core
of this is the establishment of a PSO special work group to draw
up suitable targets and action plans to achieve them. This group
is currently in the course of being formed and the deadline is
to complete its work before the next meeting of the NHSC in May.
4.5 The special work group will consider
various initiatives taken by other industries and determine what
is appropriate and practical for the ports industry.
4.6 It is expected that this work will result
in targets and action plans being adopted and put into effect.
4.7 Similar initiatives in other industries
have resulted in considerable reductions in general accident levels
and it is hoped that the special initiatives, together with the
on-going national programme, will achieve a similar result in
the ports industry.
5.1 The nature of dock operations in relation
to accidents has long been recognised.
5.2 The considerable changes in the ways
in which cargo is packaged, handled and carried have radically
changed the way in which dock operations are carried out. This
has resulted in fundamental changes to health and safety concerns,
with many of the older issues having lesser significance but with
new risks arising.
5.3 Consequently, the potential for accidents
remains whilst the hazards now differ.
5.4 The industry is fully aware of the health
and safety situation and its implications and it is well organised
at national level to respond to that. That organisation works
in a partnership approach with the Government Agencies and the
5.5 Whilst accidents and accident rates
have decreased considerably, it is accepted that there is still
room for improvement.
5.6 In partnership with the Government and
its Agencies, a major initiative is being developed to further
improve the situation. This will be directed strongly at all levels
5.7 A major conference has been organised
to address the issue and the industry is currently developing
action plans, together with targets, aimed at reducing the levels
over a period of time.
5.8 We would be pleased to supply the Committee
with any further information which it may require in connection
with its inquiry.
Ports' Safety Organisation
17 January 2001