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Since adopting our Galveston Wharves business strategy, the employee-led Safety Committee has done a remarkable job of building and rolling out a successful program to strengthen the port’s safety culture.
Safety is an important piece of our People goal to “foster a culture of excellence in business operations, risk management, safety, environmental performance, career development, and ethical standards.”
I am extremely proud of our 14-member Safety Committee and the programs and procedures they’ve put in place since January. They began by establishing clear objectives:
• Create a culture that prioritizes safety
• Develop a safety policy statement
• Provide a safe working environment for all employees
• Provide appropriate safety training
They are working to achieve these objectives by implementing several safety best practices, including policies, training, reporting, and metrics to measure performance.
The Safety Committee, chaired by Laura Camcioglu, Galveston Wharves Special Projects director, has made remarkable progress in just 8 months to engage all employees in creating a safer workplace.
Our health and safety policy and procedures clearly establish the port’s commitment to safety and environmental health. This commitment is reflected in updated port policies and procedures, including our risk management procedure, vehicle use policy and procedures, and personal protective equipment (PPE) standards.
Depending on the type of work or where they are working, employees may be required to use hearing protection, safety glasses, steel-toed boots, high-visibility vests, hard hats, N95 masks, and/or confined space air monitors.
To reinforce safe behavior, the committee implemented an observation card program. Employees are trained to complete the cards when they observe someone working safely or stop work if it is being done unsafely. The committee reviews the observation cards monthly to identify emerging trends.
They also are piloting work permit processes to ensure that potentially hazardous work is planned and executed safely. We’ve also standardized our incident and insurance forms.
Because good housekeeping goes hand-in-hand with safety, we’ve implemented housekeeping standards in work areas, including keeping areas neat, reducing trip hazards, and removing waste such as unused construction materials and obsolete equipment.
The port now collects and analyzes safety performance data for monthly reporting, including safe hours worked, lost work hours due to injury, incidents that could have resulted in injury, and training hours. The committee uses these metrics to track our progress and identify areas that need attention. We’ve installed comment boxes to gather employee feedback and suggestions.
To date this year, port employees have worked 102,184 hours safely and received 167 training hours. The port has recorded 0 lost work time due to injury, 2 safety incidents and 1 near miss – an incident with the potential to cause harm. A safety incident is an unplanned event that does not cause personal injury but could result in property damage or is worthy of recording.
This is just the beginning. The committee also plans to strengthen the program and further expand it to port vendors and tenants with contract language related to safety and environmental health, port-wide housekeeping standards, and partnerships with tenant safety managers.