This week, we have already heard from our members and employee representatives as to what we as an organisation can do to continue providing the best possible service. Today, we hear from the Health and Safety Executive; Learning about the state of the relationship between PSS and HSE, what was achieved together in 2020, and what measures were advised moving forward. We will also hear from Chief Executive Richard Steele on how PSS has taken the suggestions on board to bring about new tangible benefits in 2021.
PSS and HSE have a constructive and professional relationship, with a great deal of cooperation on behalf of the ports industry. “HSE is one of our key stakeholders,” says Richard Steele, “Maintaining a good relationship between our sector and the regulator is one of the six industry leader priorities. Doing this allows us to create channels of communication with HSE that individual ports and operators may not be able to do themselves”. This is a core purpose and success of PSS, and indicative of a relationship that continued to thrive in 2020.
One of biggest strengths of PSS, according to the HSE, continues to be the industry tripartite guidance, otherwise
known as the SiP documents. These documents are unique, in that not only do they have the direct involvement of unions, the industry, and the regulator, but are also directly referenced in HSE’s Approved Code of Practice, L148 Safety in Docks. HSE also has reserved praise for the creation of the PSS safety alerts system and the increased sharing of information throughout the ports sector. Few industries can claim the level of communication and joint working between nominal competitors as ports. It is a testament to the fostering of a healthy community that when it comes to ports, safety is not a commodity. “The promotion of information sharing has always been a priority for PSS”, says Richard Steele, “No accident should go unheeded, and as a result our communications are underpinned by the principle of learn once and learn fast”.
In September 2019, the HSE issued the ports industry three challenges. To implement a system of auditing and review to ensure SiP document compliance, to increase communication and cooperation between ship and shore, and increase engagement with workers. These have been common requests from both industry and employee representatives, and PSS has renewed efforts to meet these targets. For example, the appointment of a dedicated communications manager means PSS can increase the reach of safety campaigns and cater for workers who may not be entirely I.T. savvy. Further campaigns and audio-visual material are planned for 2021, mixing hard copy and digital material. We are also keen to explore other communications channels of the sort suggested by Cromarty and Jersey in yesterday’s spotlight.
In February 2020, Nicola Jaynes, HM Inspector of Health and Safety for the Transport and Public Services Unit, met with David Brown and Richard Steele to discuss how PSS was helping to improve sector safety. At the meeting, PSS advised HSE that they were adopting several measures, including the diversifying of their board (See our article from the 6th November for more information) and engaging even further with Unite the Union (See our article from the 23rd November for more information). To meet the challenge set by HSE in September, PSS secured a secondee to independently review member’s compliance with the SiP documents. Over the course of five months, Robert Mitchelmore from Forth Ports conducted the first stage of the PSS SiP survey, investigating the level of SiP compliance throughout the industry. PSS reported the findings in the summer and in September 2020, extended the survey program to cover more ports and more SiPs. Richard Steele says, "This will allow us to expand our understanding of the practical application of the guidance documents in the workplace, collect even more examples of good practice and work with members to help them get the best use out of SiPs". Critically, this work will also help raise awareness of the SiPs amongst the grass roots workforce.
The risks posed by operations can be significantly reduced if communications between all parties are well managed. PSS has also engaged with the Chartered Institute of Shipbrokers, whose members include ships agents, to increase ship to shore communications and cooperation. We have been working with CIS on several initiatives to improve communications between port services and ship crews, such as developing a template information sheets on local safety and amenities that can be given to ship’s crew by the agents on arrival. Unfortunately, the prominence of Covid-19 has limited physical interactions and emphasised the benefits of paperless transactions where practicable. Whilst this has set back those plans, as 2021 hoves into view, we will re-visit this work.
Our relationship with HSE is very important to us. We act as mediator and representative between the ports industry and HSE, so it is vital for us to remain proactive and versatile in our dealings. Products like SiPs interpret HSE rules into practicable guidelines with the full and frank involvement of our members. As a member, you not only receive an ever-evolving suite of health and safety tools tailored to the sector’s needs, but also a dedicated champion of the ports industry working for you, with the Health and Safety Executive. Our thanks to Nicola Jaynes from HSE for her contribution to this article.