Without sound environmental management handling bulk minerals can be dusty, but stevedoring bulk can be hazardous too.
Flinders Logistics had already developed an innovative container storage and dust suppression system that has been shown to protect human health, plants and animals from dust emissions along the pit-to-port supply chain. But after the risks from dust had been tackled, one final hazard remained – a risk from the interaction of people and machinery during ship loading.
To lift the container off the wharf and swivel it inside the ship’s hold, a heavy piece of equipment fixed to the crane called a rotating container tippler is needed. Using container tipplers is a relatively new development in the ports services sector and stevedores normally move these container tipplers onto containers manually, using guide ropes. But that meant our team was risking injury from the movement of the heavy machinery and equipment.
Our safety assessment revealed that there was a high risk of serious injury to our employees from using guide ropes for positioning the rotating tippler onto containers. We were determined to make the cargo handling process safe by removing the risk.
The group’s Occupational Health & Safety Committee and the Flinders Logistics team worked together to eliminate the risk. Once the project got underway, it soon became clear that there was no quick fix. Two external engineering firms were consulted and in-house expertise was called upon to devise potential solutions and the design underwent a rigorous process of revision and continual improvement.
The preferred model, known as the Container Spreader Guidance Apparatus (CGA), blended the in-house design and proposals from external consultants.
Specialised bumper kit guides, together with a self-levelling mechanism to maximise stability on the CGA, were developed. This transformed the project, enabling consistently accurate positioning of containers onto the CGA and allowing the rotating tippler on the crane to interface with operations at ground level.
The Flinders Logistics team and the group’s Occupational Health and Safety Committee were satisfied that the final design eliminated the manual handling risk identified. The CGA (which currently has a patent pending) was then cleared to undergo controlled trials for thorough testing before it was deployed in December 2012. Since its introduction, vessel load rates have been faster and damage to containers has also been reduced.
These efficiencies have enabled us to demonstrate to our customers and competitors that striving for the highest possible safety standards is not just about excellent business ethics; it makes great financial sense too.