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Cargo handling damage ‘usually human error'

Cargo handling damage ‘usually human error' article image

An international insurance expert estimates that 82% of accidents in the port and terminal sector in busy Middle Eastern ports can be attributed to human error.

Speaking at the recent Trans Middle East Conference in Qatar, Julien Horn, blamed a lack of safety awareness among terminal personnel as a major cause of cargo handling incidents.

Based in Dubai, Mr Horn is Middle East regional executive and director of TTMS (Gulf), a Network Partner of TT Club, the international transport and logistics industry's leading provider of insurance and related risk management services.

TT Club looked at more than 9,500 claims of a value in excess of $10,000 made over the last seven years (exceeding $425 million in total), in respect of damaging incidents at cargo handling terminals and other facilities.

The company’s research identified areas of concern and has recommended counter measures, particularly professional training and the installation of safety technology.

Of claims resulting from operational incidents, 20% involved lift-trucks, 18% quay cranes and another 18% yard cranes or straddle carriers.

Risk planning

TT Club says this analysis in itself can guide operators in where best to concentrate risk planning, though the firm says the root causes of accidents need to be focused on.

“The prime concern is one of culture,” said Mr Horn. “There must be a ‘safety first’ running through the work ethic of all terminal personnel throughout the Middle East, and indeed the world as whole.”

Through a detailed examination of its historical claims, TT Club has found numerous examples of a lacking in safety awareness among terminal personnel.  

“We often hear descriptions of incidents as, ‘a freak accident’ or ‘just bad luck’," Mr Horn told the Conference.

"Inevitably, however it is a preventable human action that is the cause of these ‘one in a million’ chance occurrences.

“Good, consistent and diligent training regimes are clearly a fundamental building block in eradicating incidents that can result in serious bodily injury and sadly, in some cases, death.

"But at the heart of a successful risk management policy is the attitude that safety is everyone’s responsibility.”

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