#MaritimeSafetyWeek: Raising Port Operative Standards & Competency Levels

03 July 2019
PTS & Port of Blyth - #MaritimeSafetyWeek

#MaritimeSafetyWeek: It has always been a huge challenge for port operators to be able match the correct labour provision to the requirements of a shipping operation. There are always so many variables to be considered, ranging from arrival and sailing times, cargo condition, weather and equipment requirements for there ever to be an easy fix.

Matching the exact number of staff to fit is difficult enough but ensuring that the correct number of those team members allocated to a particular activity all have the correct skills and competency is becoming an even bigger challenge.

Health and Safety legislation is now so demanding that just proof of adequate training is not sufficient to meet the legal requirement as employers, particularly in the case of an incident, must be able to prove that employees (both permanent and non-permanent) are fully competent in the operation they are required to undertake.

The Port of Blyth recognised this issue some years ago and set out to address this situation by developing its own training division in the form of Port Training Services – not only to satisfy its own requirements in relation to staff competency, but also that of the contract labour suppliers in the area.

It firstly looked at the quality of plant training and deemed that relying on in–house training couldn’t necessarily guarantee the standard would fully match the requirements of the HSE, especially in terms of an audit or investigation into any relevant incidents. To resolve this, external accreditation was sought through the National Plant Operators Scheme (NPORS) meaning that the majority of plant training then became fully accountable to a more rigorous monitoring and control process, which would then be deemed compliant with the HSE requirements.

There was then a need to demonstrate competency and this was achieved by embracing the culture of port operations NVQ and Apprenticeships. As there were no existing providers able to deliver such qualifications, PTS became a leading proponent of such qualifications and now works regularly throughout the UK training the staff of the future at a wide range of ports.

Having previously identified an opportunity to drive forward standards in port related NVQs and Apprenticeships, PTS operates from a purpose built, state-of-the-art facility in the North East of England.

Working in partnership with clients from across industry, PTS is able to leverage many years of training experience alongside a unique industrial asset base to offer a comprehensive and flexible course portfolio. On offer is a high quality, cost effective and professional service that is focused on improving the knowledge, skills and competence of a client’s workforce, whilst always prioritising the importance of safer working environments. We call it: Training by industry for industry.

With safety and competence at its heart, PTS has worked tirelessly with national accrediting bodies and industry associations such as Port Skills & Safety to develop and deliver a range of national vocational qualifications and apprenticeship standards.

Our plant training offers delegates the chance to learn in safe, real world environments – with both indoor warehouse and outdoor environments recreated – with courses in everything from forklift operation through to crane operation.

Reaching this point and cracking some of the challenges described above has taken a lot of hard work and a significant buy in from both management and staff, but one thing is clear: a relentless focus of safety and competency will reap its rewards.

Learn more about our educational programmes here.