This week, we have been looking at the “Whole Person” approach to health and safety and explaining why viewing workers as multi-faceted people is vital, both for the wellbeing of the staff and the bottom line of the balance sheet. Yet the “Whole Person” approach is only successful when ports look at all five sums that form the whole: Mental Health, Fitness and Wellbeing, Skills, Health and Safety Culture, and Core Safety. That is to say that just because we champion mental health, it does not mean we are absolved of our commitment to core safety.
The cornerstone of core safety at PSS is the suite of Safety in Ports or SiP guidance documents collectively produced by the ports industry, Unite the Union and the Health and Safety Executive. They provide a basic blueprint for legal safety compliance in all ports across the UK. These are living, working, documents and PSS members are at the heart of writing and amending SiPs based on practical experience. They are not compulsory, however HSE inspectors may refer to the documents during inspections so it is strongly advised to have looked at them and to know what is expected of particular operations or tasks. We also conduct our own investigations into how SiP documents are being used through our SiP Impact Surveys. Not only does the survey help us form our own picture of the practical utility of SiP documents, but it also encourages an atmosphere of self-regulation and open sharing of best practice between members.
Another feature of core safety at PSS are the regular safety alerts sent to members. When it comes to accidents involving procedures or equipment, early information sharing is critical to prevent similar incidents from occurring elsewhere. The mantra for safety alerts is “learn fast, learn once”. Instead of waiting potentially months for the results on an incident report, PSS aims to highlight possible safety lessons as soon as they arise, encouraging ports to review or modify their existing control measures. It is a critical feature of the central tenet of cooperation and communication that exists between PSS members. Another example of this is in the health and safety enquiries, where PSS acts as a forum for members to ask for advice from peers. This is a more proactive stance for the industry and allows members to anticipate accidents and discover best practice within the wider sector.
To compliment these actions, PSS provides additional tools that promote core safety. Our Annual and Bi-Monthly Accident Statistics reports provide clear long and short-term pictures of which areas of the ports industry require renewed focus. As we have highlighted in previous articles this month, the accident rate has plateaued in recent years, and has resulted in new steps being taken to overcome this obstacle. On an individual level, the statistics reports allow members to benchmark their own health and safety performance against the national average and take proactive, contextual measures. We believe that providing the tools to enable members to regulate their own health and safety standards is what is best for business and for personnel.
Those tools also extend to industry specific training courses, organised by PSS to respond to the demands of the sector. These range from IOSH’s Managing Safety in Ports to leadership training courses such as “Whose Choice is it Anyway?”. We are currently holding an Explosive Security Officer (ESO) training course to ensure that ports handling explosives are fully trained on the vital rules and principles necessary to prevent an accident of the sort that tragically befell Beirut in August. These courses bridge the skills gap, reinforce existing knowledge, and create safer, more aware working environments in ports. While the continued training of existing staff is important, apprenticeship schemes embed a high level of health and safety standards in an employee from day one, and PSS works with maritime skills providers on schemes such as Trailblazers apprenticeships.
Finally, there are the more social aspects of core safety that PSS provide. Monthly industry newsletters update members on the latest news, guidance changes, and sector accomplishments, while also drawing attention to PSS developments or new initiatives. In addition to this, we also host three major PSSG meetings a year for members to attend and network in person with their industry peers. These events combine networking, workshops and guest speakers to deliver immersive days of training and skills sharing. It is an excellent way to exchange experience and knowledge with some of the brightest minds in the sector in a non-competitive environment, which we hope to continue in 2021 virus-permitting.
As you can see, PSS offers a vast array of tools that cater to the development of core safety in ports. We act as both a forum and advisor to our members, and work hard to ensure they have the framework they need to create a safe atmosphere for their workers. However, core safety is just one component of the “Whole Person” approach, and as we will see in our fifth and final article of the week, it is equally important to enable workers to be healthy and safe in themselves.