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Improving safety

Safety is not only about making it home every day

23/03/2018

At the end of the day, safety always concerns the well-being and human life of individuals. But besides such a fundamental aspect, there are even more reasons why safety should be every company’s top priority.

AUTHOR: LASSE ERIKSSON

By taking a broader business perspective on safety, you will not only ensure that your employees, colleagues, customers and partners go home every day feeling well, but you also drive the industry culture and the business forward.

Safety is good for everyone’s business

When people stay safe, there are multiple benefits for all stakeholders within our industry. The monetary losses of a human life cannot and should not be estimated, but at least the direct costs caused by accidents, absences and medical treatment are mostly measurable. Nevertheless, there are also more indirect implications to consider. Accidents are tragic, not only to the person directly involved, but also to the entire working community. Even purely from business perspective, such implications may have a major impact on the performance of the operations due to various reasons including inability to perform under stress and shock.

Another important consideration is that accidents and malfunctions can interrupt or even halt operations. These situations can threaten the continuity of business, at least momentarily, when machines and systems fail to operate. The result might be something as concrete as a disappointed customer or additional maintenance costs. In regards to safety, this is another important aspect we should focus on: ensuring business continuity via trouble-free operations. All actions towards predictive maintenance and condition monitoring in machines are towards improving safety and reducing downtime as well.

In our industry, there are already many solid examples of keeping business running smoothly. For example, Kalmar has delivered several solutions to automating terminals. Safety is a key design parameter in an automated machine system. All the design goes through a systematic process, which ensures the high quality of the safety design. As more processes in terminals are automated, productivity is enhanced and employees stay safely away from potential hazards. Furthermore, safety improvements can also be achieved without full automation, for example with anti-collision systems.

Let’s prevent, not only minimise damages

I want to emphasise that safety is also much about mindset which requires practice. This makes effective training one of our key priorities. Having the capabilities and knowledge of how to act safely within an environment that supports such conduct, good progress in safety development can be expected.

However, unexpected situations always happen. Working conditions are often challenging in our industry: we work in places where there might be dangerous heights, wind, water, and large moving masses. We cannot always fully control these surroundings, but we as an industry still cannot be satisfied with anything less than zero accidents ambition and mindset.

We should embrace the opportunities that technology offers to continuously improve from the current situation. IoT technologies can be used to reduce the amount of situations where people expose themselves to challenging conditions. Monitoring data from machines, systems and environment can reveal warning signs of potential hazards.

As another example, virtual reality (VR) can be effectively used in safety training. Safety development requires technology solutions but first and foremost it is much about collaboration. Collaboration within one’s closest team, collaboration with customers, suppliers and partners to drive the mindset change towards better safety, and collaboration with decision-makers to always challenge the current status. In the end, advancements in this area will help improve everyone’s business, not to mention the human element of safety.

What are your thoughts?

What do you think, what is the most practical way of using technology to improve safety in cargo and load handling? How are the most impactful innovations born in this area? Share your thoughts on the comments section below and check out my next blog post on the subject!

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