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Pier 400 recognised for zero tolerance contractor safety management

As the largest container port terminal in the Western Hemisphere, APM Terminals Los Angeles – known as Pier 400 – occupies an enormous 507 acres. While the sheer size of the terminal is awe-inspiring, the scope for risk to health is a constant worry for our health & safety experts.

Due to the nature of container ports – even those which are world-leading – the potential for incidents is high if stringent requirements are not followed. While APM Terminals has mandatory training for its own personnel, it was not always in a position to insist that contractors uphold those same high standards.

avetta-pier-400-awardContractor care

“There are limitations on the amount of control we can exert over contractors,” says Christopher Allen, Director Health, Safety, Security Environment at APM Terminals Los Angeles. “That’s why it is important that our contractor management exceeds standards of care and reflects safety best practices.”

Now in his fourth year with APM Terminals, Christopher takes pause to reflect on the changes he’s implemented with his team – initiatives which recently saw him pick up the Avetta Premier Partner award for collaboration and co-innovation at the Avetta Summit in Houston, Texas.

Historical process revised

”Contractor safety managment has historically focused on processes to reduce safety risk when contractors perform work in the terminal,” says Christopher.

That may have seemed logical, but it left gaps. ”We view our responsibility as being integral to the contracting process from the very beginning of our connection with a vendor. Now, our safety alignment begins at selection, and continues all the way to completion of the job. Safety is part of the lifecycle of the contractor relationship rather than being restricted to a single activity,” he explains.

Complete change

This ’full term’ way of thinking changed contractor safety management at the terminal. ”We have completely changed our contractor safety management as a result,” he says.

The most effective step taken was to eliminate risk – as far as possible – from the get-go. “We began a process of ‘zero tolerance’ where safety programs and administrative controls were not completed,” says Christopher.

At roll out, the contractor vetting process identified 20 contractors that did not meet APM Terminals’ standards. “Those contractors are no longer eligible to perform work here – and therefore the risk they posed has been eliminated,” he says. The program also identified contractors with inadequate insurance, and poor safety records.

Vetting process

Contractor Safety Management at Pier 400 now has several elements, including: procurement, rigorous vetting, safety training, and permit to work requirements.

Among the steps taken to ensure contractors understood expectations was the creation of a contractor safety handbook which is handed to individuals working on the terminal. To ease communication of these expectations, a training program was additionally developed targeting individual contractors who do work on the terminal, and in addition a training video was developed to make safety learnings more efficient.

The collaboration with Avetta and APM Terminals has not only been recognised outside the company, but inside as well. The Pier 400 Los Angeles facility has been nominated as a finalist in APM Terminals’ own Global Safety Awards being held in September.

Image caption: Christopher Allen of APM Terminals receives the award from Avetta President and CEO Arshad Matin.