President of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), Paddy Crumlin has spoken out about his concerns about the poor health and safety standards in ports around the globe. In a recent article, entitled 'The Hard Line' he says; "Occupational health and safety standards in ports aren’t where they need to be, in fact in many instances they aren’t even close."
Crumlin suggests that the top down approach to health and safety isn't helpful and that a culture of shared workforce responsibility is more likely to enforce standards within the industry.
He is also at pains to point out that this is not an isolated, developing world problem, but instead an international issue; "There are potential problems with health and safety in ports across the spectrum. It isn’t a developing world issue, there’s no East-West divide because men and women are dying on the job in locations across the globe.
"In the last six months the ITF has sent condolences to Germany, Belgium, Doha. There was a recent spike in the number of deaths on the waterfront in my home country of Australia and just last month a mother of two died when she was hit by a top loader in Port Elizabeth, US."
The ITF has commissioned a report jointly with the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health from Cardiff University to better understand the standard occupational health and safety in ports around the world. The report, entitled; ‘Experiences of arrangements for health, safety and well-being in the global container terminal industry’ will be released later in 2015 and will be based on interviews and surveys with 1,850 workers in 11 terminals globally.
"We’re never going to make ports 100% safe." says Crumlin, "Dock work is dangerous work and that’s why we fight so intensely to maintain the protected status of the profession. But what we don’t accept is companies using the fact that dock work is dangerous as an excuse for the potentially avoidable accidents, deaths and adversely affected health of workers that occur on their watch."
Read the article in full; 'The Hard Line' by Paddy Crumlin