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ABP’s Director of Marine and Compliance, Mike McCartain outlines the latest ABP initiatives to advance health and safety in ports.

You’ve worked on the quayside for years – why would you know what it’s like to drive an HGV?

You’ve been a lorry driver for years – why would you know what it’s like to be a stevedore on the quayside?

Seeing things from another’s point of view can make a massive difference in understanding the dangers and challenges of the workplace, says Mike McCartain, ABP’s Director of Marine and Compliance.

“It’s all about awareness of the other person’s perspective. Once you have sat in the driver’s seat of an HGV, you are going to be less keen to walk in the blind spots around the vehicle. It’s the same for the driver – once a driver understands the perspective of the worker on the quayside, they are far more aware of the potential for an accident.”

People know that the limit on the motorway is 70mph but many will still drive at 90. We have to make sure that people are inspired to do the right thing.

Welcome to the world of virtual reality. ABP’s ongoing health and safety initiative, Beyond Zero, is moving into the digital learning space, and that’s just one of a number of new projects and systems coming online.

We are about to roll out our LMS (Learning Management System) focusing on safety and the dangers in ports,” says Mike. “This will push home a powerful message about working near water and about wearing PPE, for example. And part of that will be a digital programme enabling people to be ‘inside’ the lorry, using the mouse to see a view of the river and what’s happening on the quayside. This will clearly show how hard it is for the driver when people are working in his or  her blind spot. It will also give lorry drivers the opportunity to ‘be’ in those blind spots themselves.”

ABP’s Beyond Zero message is clear: everyone should have the expectation that they can come to work and go home safely.

Safety in ports and at work depends on the systems and processes in place – he emphasises the ‘Holy Trinity’ of toolbox talk, safety talk, proper risk assessment – but it is also dependent on the way people behave, he emphasises. “For example, people know that the limit on the motorway is 70mph but many will still drive at 90mph. We have to make sure that people are inspired to do the right thing. And in that regard, I believe attitudes have changed considerably.”

Seeing things from another’s point of view can make a massive difference in understanding the dangers and challenges of the workplace. It’s all about awareness of the other person’s perspective.

Through the ‘Spot it’ system, people are more confident about challenging their colleagues: you are not wearing the right PPE; are you about to do something unsafe? Have you considered all the risks? Are you sure about that?

“It isn’t about confrontation but we need to be more confident about challenging each other in the right way," says Mike. “Through everything we do, we work to establish trust; so that people trust each other to do the right thing and look after each other. Of course process is vital, but so are trust, leadership and inspiration.”

Beyond Zero and its drive for behaviour change has been rolled out at a steady, sustainable pace. In parallel, this year will see a number of very important process changes.

A new compliance management system (CMS) went live in February. An incident management system goes live in April. A new safety management system (SMS) for compliance and marine is being implemented.

All of ABP’s compliance teams, and other colleagues, have been heavily involved in the contractor management system, which will ensure that all contractors and aspiring suppliers operate to the same high standards of health and safety. The system will check credentials and require proof of those standards and commitment. A group-wide approach is important in a number of areas, says Mike.

In occupational health: “More services will be provided under one ABP banner, to all our employees across the ports. Their records will be on one database, which makes good management and ensures that conditions are shared. We also have one health provider. Throughout the year we run health sessions giving advice and support on topics such as mental health, wellbeing, diabetes, weight and drinking. We give gentle reminders on health – we allow people to make their own choices.

Security: “Having one uniform and an established correct safe way of doing things across the group is key. We are also discussing how we can develop our CCTV capabilities with our contractors."

PPE: “A new high-quality range of PPE is being rolled out across the group, with standard helmets and clothes and the introduction of specific female PPE. People are getting better at promoting why you should wear the right gear – goggles, gloves, trousers, boots and helmets. We ran a campaign with helmets. We have seen a considerable reduction in injuries, thanks to people wearing the correct PPE – and you will see more and more people in all the same PPE across ABP.” Mike, who joined ABP in December 2016, says that ABP will continue to embrace new initiatives.

"The health and safety of our colleagues always has and always will be our number one priority."