No two ports are the same. They may perform similar functions, have equivalent infrastructure, or even be owned by the same operator, but there will always be distinct challenges that each individual port faces alone. Or at least, that would be the case without PSS. We are in a unique position to offer support and advice on skills, safety and health to members the length and breadth of the country, to ports both large and small. To gain a snapshot of how we work with and respond to the needs of different ports, we asked the Port of Cromarty Firth in the Highlands of Scotland and the Ports of Jersey off the coast of France to give their impression of PSS.
Both Jersey and Cromarty Firth drew attention to the importance of the quality working relationships between themselves and the PSS team. Engagement, learning and working together is integral to what we do and it is great to hear members saying that this is working well for them. Jersey also stated that the guidance we provide, in the form of SiP documents and Safety Alerts, is both comprehensive and flexible enough to allow ports some autonomy in its implementation. Both ports also stated that PSS has fostered an atmosphere of communication which has led to an improved standard of safety for the industry. This is again excellent news from our perspective as the only way we can offer first class health and safety guidance is by regularly receiving and reviewing ports practices.
Before this starts to sound too much like a back-slapping exercise! we also asked Cromarty Firth and Jersey about what opportunities they saw for PSS to improve its services. Here, both ports requested we increase our online presence and expand our range of digital tools. Cromarty Firth, for example, stated that there should be more options to attend PSS meetings virtually even once Covid-19 has finally ended. Cromarty Firth challenged us to review our website and look for ways to improve navigation. They also recommended the inclusion of a members’ forum for the rapid exchange of information. This is echoed by Jersey, who also said that the creation of a PSS app would facilitate the reach of our safety alerts and content. This is an excellent idea and discussions are underway as to the practical application and development of such a tool. Jersey also raised a point concerning the increasing automation of port operations and how PSS must stay apace of developments in this field in order to provide a well-rounded service. We agree, and we’re proud to have Dave Patterson, Vice President of South and West Europe for Kalmar, on our board of directors. His insight and expertise in the field of technology services for ports will help to inform and grow our offer to members.
As for communication in general, both ports believed that enhancing our presence on social media would be an important step in creating an ever more pro-active and assertive focal point for all port health and safety matters. Cromarty Firth added that campaigns of the sort that members have seen from us in the past on workplace transport and slips trips and falls should be made quarterly; highlighting nationwide “port themes”. Our communications manager Rob Coniam is already working on our 2021 communications strategy and is driving the expansion of our social media presence. The “Protecting Quay People” campaign has demonstrated that there is an appetite for more regular communications from us.
Cromarty Firth suggested that a PSS manual be produced to act as a guide for all ports to follow, introducing an element of standardisation and optimisation to the industry. This could be coupled with a set of process-flow check cards for specific scenarios. The suite of SiP guidance is our first point of reference for standards and queries. We firmly believe that there is more that we can do to springboard from SiPs and have plans for a range of tools to enhance the visibility of the documents to wider audiences. For example, we are in the process of planning further audio-visual aids to act as guides for your workforce. Our SiP Impact Survey is also driving towards context appropriate standards and optimised health and safety.
We have a twenty-year track record of capturing unique, port industry Accident Statistics. Cromarty Firth suggested we could push the value-add further by reporting working-hours, greater use of leading indicators, near misses, training, internal audits, risk assessment reviews, and HSEQ meetings. Again, we wholly agree that creating ever better intelligence and learning from the things that we do well, is essential to pushing forward on health and safety across the industry. We have ambitions to move our sector to a whole new level on safety management intelligence, using just the sort of data that Cromarty Firth have identified. We are working with specialists and other sectors to understand how we might ultimately get to a game-changing Precursor Indicator Model where the industry could predict and head off accidents before they happen. New PSS Non-Executive Director Johnny Schute is bringing a wealth of experience from the Rail Safety and Standards Board on safety intelligence to this strategic work; one of many reasons that we are delighted to have him on the PSS board.
Finally, Jersey requested that a satisfaction survey be rolled-out again in 2021 to all members to keep in line with the needs of the industry. We will certainly look into this in the new year, however in the meantime, we encourage all members to provide feedback on our performance and your needs. If you wish to get in touch, you can do so by contacting our communications manager, Rob Coniam, either via e-mail – Rob.Coniam@portskillsandsafety.co.uk – or by phone – 07909766926. We wish to thank the ports of Cromarty Firth and Jersey for their assistance in putting together this article. We welcome all feedback and look forward to hearing from members on any of the topics raised.