Safety is undeniably a crucial consideration in most modern ports and terminals. However, there are still areas where a lack of unified regulation or guidance leaves certain operations vulnerable to incidents.
An example of this is lighting. Currently, there are no global standards for lighting levels despite its fundamental importance in ensuring the safety of workers, the efficiency of operations, and port security.
Furthermore, it is worth noting that the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has never regulated or published recommended guidelines for lighting levels. Although we should acknowledge the significance of existing port lighting standards in the UK, as set by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the European Union, in addition to ISO requirements, the absence of global regulation has had a detrimental effect on the overall quality of lighting in ports. Consequently, many terminals worldwide still rely on outdated lighting systems that do not meet today's standards. This poses a significant and preventable risk to the safety of port workers, as well as the reputation and profitability of operators.
This lack of clarity regarding lighting best practices is of increasing importance as more operations are exposed to volatile weather conditions, such as high heat and high winds. This means that inadequate lighting is more prone to failure, which can lead to a hazardous working environment. The TT Club, a major insurance provider, has identified lighting as a significant factor among the top 10 risks faced by workers in container ports. As a result, it is imperative for owners and operators to take immediate action.
An easy fix to a serious problem
Improving lighting in ports is a viable solution for owners, regardless of their size or location. Not only do these investments provide a guaranteed economic return, but they also enhance security and promote sustainable operations.
Presently, numerous ports and terminals continue to rely on outdated lighting solutions, such as high-pressure sodium, metal halide, or other similarly antiquated technologies. These solutions often result in reduced visibility and are susceptible to frequent breakdowns.
However, there are alternative lighting solutions available in the market. Unlike metal halide lamps that degrade quickly and need to be replaced every 1-2 years, LED lighting has a minimum lifespan of 10 years. The durability of LED lighting also reduces the need for workers to climb masts and poles, thus significantly reducing the risk involved.
Moreover, LED lighting provides greater visibility, surpassing 50%, which plays a crucial role in preventing avoidable accidents. A reputable manufacturer should also offer tailored lighting solutions for different environments. For example, accurately positioning lighting can ensure it withstands extreme weather conditions.
An insurance risk
It is important to keep in mind that an accident can have serious consequences for both workers and the reputation of a port. If a broken light or inadequate lighting is found at the scene of an accident, the port or terminal operator may be held responsible. This could result in a significant insurance claim payout and, in some countries, even criminal prosecution for the port operator.
The lack of guidance on lighting standards and the overlooked potential for upgrading lighting solutions have been a long-standing issue. It is crucial to prioritise infrastructural upgrades before an accident occurs. Upgrades, particularly the implementation of LED lighting solutions, are simple, effective, and most importantly, essential for protecting both owners and employees.