Dockside lifesaver

19 March 2008

The US government has released a factsheet designed to improve safety of container gantry crane operations at ports.

OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), part of the US Department of Labor, said workers on the ground typically communicate with the crane operator using hand signals.

Its new factsheet states that dockside employees working under the crane and aboard ship should also use radio. “During non-routine tasks or in an emergency, employees may need more interactive communication with the crane operator. Non-routine tasks include handling oversized or unusually shaped cargo, hoisting personnel and handling damaged containers or jammed twist-locks.

“Emergency situations can occur when one employee sees another employee beneath a load, or when a container is not properly disconnected from a chassis, resulting in accidental lifting of the tractor and chassis with an employee inside,” OSHA said.

Telephones, along with a range of alternative sound-signalling systems can be used in conjunction with hand signalling but OSHA's preferred form of communication is radio. “The availability and use of radios to communicate with the crane operator is a particularly effective way to reduce the risk of injuries associated with container operations.

“Radio communication across the terminal also plays an important part in responding to accidents and in safely moving equipment and personnel across the terminal.

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