Examination of Witnesses (Questions 440
WEDNESDAY 21 MARCH 2001
(Mr Jones) The survey we undertook actually covered
over 9,000 employees. From that data and from estimations of the
organisations that did not reply it is possible to extrapolate
reasonably accurately, I suggest.
441. Has this survey been a recent development?
(Mr Jones) It is here, it is going to be published
442. Yet, Mr Compton said there is no meaningful
knowledge about how many people are employed in the industry.
It is very important. We are dealing with training and health
and safety within this industry.
(Mr Sloggett) This is not the first survey, it has
been done at least once before.
443. When was that?
(Mr Sloggett) It is done every two years, there was
certainly one done in 1999.
(Mr Jones) 1998 and 2000.
444. The membership of your different organisations,
could you give the Committee some idea of the make up of that
membership, how many and where they come from?
(Mr Jones) Yes, certainly. Of all of the port authorities
and the harbour authorities that are represented by the two main
trade associations, the BPA and UKMPG, BPIT, but there are some
445. Would you tell us what all of your initials
stand for, please?
(Mr Jones) British Ports Industry Training, may I
refer to it as BPIT.
446. Yes. Can you also give us the names of
the two trade associations. If we want an accurate record it is
always helpful to put it in English.
(Mr Jones) Of the organisations represented by the
British Ports Association, the BPA and the United Kingdom Major
Ports Group, UKMPG 78 per cent of those are members of the BPIT,
but there are some major ports outside the membership of BPIT.
447. Any trade union membership?
(Mr Jones) The membership is for organisations in
the industry, employers.
448. No employee representation.
(Mr Jones) Yes.
449. Can you identify who that might be?
(Mr Jones) We have two trade union members on our
450. From which union?
(Mr Jones) From the Transport and General Workers
Union and from NUMAST.
(Mr Compton) As far as major ports are concerned all
the members of the UKMPG, the United Kingdom Major Ports Group
are members of the PSO. The British Ports Association has submitted
to you a list of ports that handle over one million tonnes per
annum and of those one is not a member of ours, and we are talking
to the managing director at the moment. The DETR in Modern Ports
identified 35 ports which handle over two million tonnes per annum,
and only two of those are not members, one is in Scotland and
one is listed as a river. The Port Service Directive proposals
refer to three million tonnes as a limit, of those, the same,
one in Scotland is not a member, all of the others are. All of
those over 500,000 passengers, which was the other limit in that
Directive, are members of the PSO.
451. We have had some evidence that suggests
that the spread of casualisation since 1989 has increased the
difficulties in coherent training programmes and, secondly, increased
health and safety problems. Would you agree with that? If so,
what statistics have you available or evidence available to examine
this issue of casualisation in terms of trading and health and
(Mr Compton) Certainly it is true that the amount
of what we call non-permanent employees engaged in the industry
has increased. There are different types of engagement, of course,
there is the engagement of somebody who is taken on, perhaps,
for one day and then goes away again and may have no knowledge
of the industry at all. There are other arrangements where you
have a pool of people who are very experienced and trained within
the industry and are held to be used and it is gauged when they
are needed. It is a concern and it has been a concern of the industry.
As a result of that concern and arising directly from a presentation
made to the National Health and Safety Committee by Colin Carr,
who you saw a moment ago, plus the safety officer in Mersey in
May 1999 the whole industry has developed and adopted a voluntary
code of practice, which is the first time the industry has ever
done something like that on the engagement of non-permanent employees
throughout the industry. It was adopted in May of last year and
came into force in October last year. We are due to carry out
a survey at the end of this month, that is to say surveying six
months on, as to how effective that has been in its implementation.
We are also bound after a year, that is in autumn of this year,
to review that code of practice to see if it needs to be improved
in any way. Basically what it is doing is saying that no non-permanent
employee of any type should be engaged in cargo handling activities
unless and until that person has received safety induction training
and has a card to that effect, a card which we call a Port Safety
Induction Card that is given to them by the organisation coming
out of training and he carries that with him. In Colin Carr's
port of Liverpool over 900 people have been through safety induction
training courses as a result of this and my information is that
at the very sharp end, where the most hazardous work is carried
on, the accident rate has reduced by 50 per cent in the 12 months
since that has started.
452. Is that 50 per cent reduction in what I
would term as "casual labour"?
(Mr Compton) Yes, I think it is, because it is in
the company that supplies labour to the container terminal, which
are the lashing jobs on ships.
453. Is the training also part of this code
of practice, Mr Sloggett?
(Mr Sloggett) The code of practice that has just been
described is an issue about safety. There is a demarcation between
PSO and BPIT, in that we do not get involved in safety issues.
454. In terms of training, presumably you would
incorporate some safety training, is it not important that some
sort of system, ie code of practice or whatever, is also agreed
and implemented so that you can have a better idea and more knowledge
about what is happening or should happen in terms of casual employees
in the industry?
(Mr Sloggett) Absolutely. Just before I enlarge on
that point can I go back to the membership statistics. When you
asked about the memberships of our respective organisations I
think the answers that both of us gave you were in respect of
ports authority membership of our organisations. Obviously in
our ports there are a host of other organisations which may or
may not be in membership. When one says that a port is a member
of the British Ports and Industry Training Organisation that usually
means that the port authority is and then other organisations
in that port, like stevedores or labour suppliers may or may not
also be. Regarding the other point you raised, BPIT has been instrumental
in setting standards and national vocational qualifications for
a whole range of activities in the port industry, so there has
been that sort of standard-setting which we would like to promote
to everyone who works in our industry.
455. Do you have to establish a safety case
in the same way that you would do in some other industries?
(Mr Compton) Not unless that particular legislation
that requires that applies. That applies on the railways, and
it applies in areas of major hazards.
456. The implication of what Mr Sloggett was
saying is you could have a port authority who were complying with
not only the code of conduct but also with the suggestions on
training that you are talking about. If there are vast numbers
of contractors and subcontractors in the same port they are not
either bound by the code of conduct or by the same training facility,
so they could have vast numbers of people working for them who
would have no training at all.
(Mr Compton) There are general requirements within
health and safety laws for employees to be trained according to
their jobs and the requirements of those jobs. Although the Port
Authorities are main members of both organisations we also have
a lot of those companies, these cargo handling companies as well.
Could I quote you the way which are PSO membership is broken down:
Port Authorities 42 per cent; stevedores, terminal operators,
container bases and other cargo handling companies 30 per cent;
shipping companies with shore-based operations 9 per cent; local
councils 8 per cent; labour supply companies 4 per cent and others
7 per cent. It is quite a broad church actually.
457. Can I take you back to the safety induction
course, is it a good course or is it what you can fit into a half
day or something like that?
(Mr Compton) The PSO with its members developed some
guidelines for such training. The way it is written is that it
is flexible because what is needed in one situation may be very
different in another situation, it depends on what the non-permanent
employee is going to be engaged in doing. If you take a non-permanent
employee who is already able to drive a car and he has been taken
on to drive trade vehicles and trade cars off of a ship to a terminal
car park, as it were, then there is a certain amount of induction
training needed there, about the nature of that port, that area
and the safety of driving on and off ships. If you take a person
on to lash containers on the deck of a container ship that is
a much more hazardous operation, indeed it would need a lot more
not only induction training about that job and that port but a
lot more training with regard to the job itself.
458. If you take those sort of induction courses
do you think the quality of the courses are good or are they restrained
by the amount of time an employer will pay for somebody to be
on the course?
(Mr Compton) In truth we will only know how that has
worked out in practice when we carry out our survey. It came into
force last October. It has had a profound effect, it is fair to
say, but just how it has worked in detail, and that is one of
a number of aspects, we will only find out when we have held the
Chairman: Could you give us a supplementary
note on that when you have, at least, your first impressions.
459. You said that you think the accident levels
have plateaued, does that mean you have the figures or is that
what has happened as far as the rest of accidents in industry
are concerned and that you are as an industry the same as the
(Mr Compton) Firstly, the Government said that in
their revitalisation initiative.