Protecting Quay People: A Summary

Published: Friday, November 27, 2020 - 10:43

When we were planning the “Protecting Quay People” campaign, we had three goals in mind. First, we wanted to reinforce the importance of the “Whole Person” approach to health and safety. Second, to proactively canvass our members and stakeholders as to the innovative measures they would like to see from PSS in the future. Thirdly, to communicate to the ports sector the achievements of PSS in 2020 and what we have planned for 2021. As November draws to a close, we can now look back on our campaign and evaluate how we met these markers and what we have learned going forward.


We have been gratified to see many ports adopt the “Whole Person” model, as has been evidenced by several contributors to the campaign. In the first week, Dave Patterson delivered his view of how technology can be used to further decrease accident rates. However, Dave was quick to temper this view by saying that any technological advances, whether it be automated procedures, safety sensors, or more efficient data collection, must be used in conjunction with the “Whole Person” model. This was a view shared by the contributors to our second week, which concentrated solely on the practical applications of the “Whole Person” approach. On 9th November, for example, Wendy Freeman of Peel Ports delivered an article explaining the importance of dealing with mental health in the workplace. This was followed on the 18th by Colin Bassam of the Port of Blyth whose core message was to invest in your workforce in the same manner as you would invest in every other part of your business. Treat them as people with needs such as good diet, exercise, and sound mental health and they will be the best they can be. An important aspect of this is training and skills, and on the 10th November, we invited Iain Mackinnon from the Maritime Skills Alliance to speak on the necessity of apprenticeships and adequate education. In his article, the first of two in November, he stated how workshops, backed and organised by PSS, are a core strength and help keep the industry skilled and flexible in the face of an uncertain future. This is in addition to PSS staff and board members supplying their own practical and academic evidence to support the necessity of the “Whole Person” approach.


A large part of the success of PSS is in our ability to facilitate cooperation and communication throughout the ports industry. To reflect this, and a stated goal for our “Protecting Quay People” campaign, we proactively encouraged members and stakeholders to provide their own impressions of PSS. Throughout the final week of the campaign, we published feedback received from industry operators and organisations such as Unite the Union and the UK Harbour Masters Association. In the article dated 23rd November, The UK Marine Pilots Association said that the relationship with PSS is strong, which means that there is more that can be achieved in 2021. For example, emphasis on mental health and fatigue management and acceleration of both organisation’s shared mission to proactively embed a culture of mutual responsibility throughout the industry. Unite meanwhile was keen to encourage further inclusion of safety representatives in reviews and analysis. PSS and Unite have already collaborated on materials such as the SiP documents and look forward to continuing this productive relationship in the future. In their article from the 25th November, the Health and Safety Executive explained the three challenges to the industry issued in 2019, and how PSS has tackled them in 2020. A key PSS response to driving continuous improvement has been to increase the breadth of experience on the board of directors. As can be read in our reintroduction to the board, published on the 6th November, we have managed to gather a highly qualified and diverse assembly of directors to guide PSS through the challenges to come. HSE called for a system of auditing and review to ensure SiP document compliance across the industry. This was shared by members Cromarty Firth and Jersey, who were invited to contribute their feedback on the 24th November. Both ports praised PSS for the atmosphere of improved cooperation.  They also shared our aspiration to build on and extend our communications; challenging us to explore and stretch how we get messages to the widest possible reach.


This brings us neatly to the third message we wanted to get across this month; that of our achievements and what we have planned for 2021. To meet the challenge of ensuring that industry guidance was embedded throughout the sector, we took on a secondee from Forth Ports, Robert Mitchelmore, who conducted a survey to monitor SiP document usage. PSS reported on these finding in the summer, and in September, instituted a second phase of the survey to expand our understanding of the practical applications of the guidance. In July, a new communications manager was hired to specifically examine and refine comms policy between members and PSS. Of the several initiatives currently under development, audio-visual material and simplified versions of the SiP documents are heavily requested features. As outlined in the article from the 4th November, his new communications strategy will focus on increasing our already proactive stance while continuing to be as responsive to the needs of our members as possible. In 2020 PSS proactivity has been seen across the whole remit. On the 3rd November, Richard Steele spoke about the priority of leaving the accident ‘plateau’ behind and detailed the progress made by PSS in this regard. In 2020, PSS published the ‘Seven Leading Principles of Safety in RoRo Operations” as a direct response to the tragedy that occurred at the beginning of the year. As Covid arrived in the UK, PSS was quick to issue the Covid Gazetteer to ensure everyone had immediate access to the information necessary to curtail the spread of the virus. The importance of effective health and safety culture has been emphasised time and time again throughout the “Protecting Quay People” campaign, including by Colin Bassam, Alan Page, and Johnny Schute.  The PSS “Good Practice Guide to Building Effective H&S Culture”, released in the summer, was developed by canvassing members on ‘things that work’ in their own culture strategies. This enabled PSS to construct a model of effective culture that can be applied in any port organisation; though we also believe that it would work equally well in other industries too.


We hope you have found the articles published this year interesting and thought provoking. We have tried to provide a range of differing opinions and needs, but the central message has remained the same. Safety is everyone’s priority, and we must continue to remain vigilant no matter the political or medical environment. As thoughts turn to Christmas and New Year, we look forward to building on our achievements in 2021. We want to thank everyone for their hard work and contribution to the “Protecting Quay People” campaign, without whom it could not have been produced. PSS is only as strong as our members, and we will continue to work diligently on their behalf. We want to thank David Brown and Katherine Lovell from the Port of Bristol Company for their kind assistance, as well as the entire board of directors for fielding questions and volunteering their time.