New Initiative on Container Yard Safety

Press Release
Thursday, December 20, 2012

Three leading exponents of improved risk management in ports and container handling facilities have published recommended safety standards for container yard equipment. 


TT Club, PEMA and ICHCA International have identified additional safety devices that can be implemented on yard equipment, along with other operational changes in order to reduce injuries and fatalities as well as cargo, property and equipment damage.

The three organizations have in the past united in campaigning for increased safety measures to be adopted to address common safety issues arising in quay crane operations.  Now their attention turns to container yard equipment.  Using claim analysis data* provided by the freight transport specialist insurer TT Club, the latest initiative draws attention to such telling statistics as:

•    53% of the total cost of operational related claims were caused by yard equipment
•    75% of the cost of injury claims in terminal facilities resulted from yard equipment accidents
•    67% of costs related to fires were attributed to yard equipment

“These headline findings point to a heavy concentration of avoidable incidents,” comments Laurence Jones, TT Club’s Director of Global Risk Assessment.  “Analysis of the Club’s data shows that up to 1,600 claims amounting to USD 130million resulted from such incidents.  Changes to operational procedure, additional training and/or fitting safety equipment to machinery could significantly reduce this bill.”

For example, lift trucks were involved in 30% of the bodily injury claims analysed.  This was mainly the result of trucks reversing into people.  The installation of anti-collision devices could potentially have saved USD30 million and prevented 51 workers from being killed or suffering serious injury over the last six years.

The tripartite publication entitled “Recommended Minimum Standard Safety Features for Container Yard Equipment” details all the risks identified in the TT Club claims analysis and, drawing on the considerable operational experience of the two industry bodies, ICHCA International and PEMA, offers comprehensive advice on how to off-set the consequences of each of these risks.  

These preventative measures include the installation of reliable safety devices on the yard equipment. While these safety features and technologies are available and proven, they are not commonly part of standard specifications.


However, the Club advises that adoption of the recommendations must go hand in hand with safe procedures, training and effective maintenance and yard design, including controlled traffic flow arrangements and speed limits.


Nevertheless, the document will assist in assessing the risks involved in the choices concerning the appropriate type of equipment to be deployed.

Jones exemplifies another such measure and, crucially its economic viability.  “Most fires in yard equipment are caused by fuel or hydraulic leaks in the engine compartment.  Efficient servicing and cleaning procedures, the use of only good quality hydraulic hoses and fittings and the installation of effective fire suppression systems can almost eradicate these occurrences.   An effective fire suppression system costing from USD1,000 to 5,000 could prevent the write-off of the equipment – such as a lift truck valued up to USD500,000 – and the risk of serious injury.”

All three organizations stress that international, national and local regulations are mandatory, while these Recommendations are voluntary and recognise that technology solutions will not preclude all claims. The TT Club has repeatedly identified that the human factor is dominant in its claims analyses. Technology can support good practice and prevent certain accidents, but effective and continuing training of all personnel accessing a facility using these types of equipment is paramount.

The full text of the “Recommendations” is available from the TT Club website  and covers all major types of container yard crane and mobile equipment. The hope of all three bodies is that these minimum recommended safety features will be adopted generally by equipment suppliers and buyers both on new and existing equipment to improve safety levels at the world’s ports.

Stephan Stiehler, Chair of the PEMA Safety Committee and Strategic Industry Manager, Ports & Cranes at German port technology manufacturer SICK said, “Working together, we have produced a document that we feel offers unique value to the global container handling industry to define where and how safety levels could be increased”.  

*The analysis was based on a total of over 4000 claims valued above USD10,000 received over a six year period from operators of container terminals, yards and other container handling facilities; with a total cost of USD341 million.


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