Georgia Ports Authority keeps safety at the forefront


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Corporate Safety Manager Patrick Page reminds everyone on GPA’s terminals to be deliberate in their actions.

Safety has long been at the forefront of Georgia Ports Authority’s operations, but as Corporate Safety Manager Patrick Page reminds everyone when going on terminal — you must be purposeful in your everyday actions.

Page, who recently celebrated 11 years at GPA, began his tenure at Ocean Terminal. He transferred to container operations before moving into his current role in 2013.

“The idea of having more of an impact for the organization was a big draw for me,” Page said. “We wanted to highlight safety more and keep it part of the daily conversation.”

On any given day, there are 40,000 containers on Garden City Terminal. That requires 1,200 acres of kinetic energy running 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Page said because terminal operations are so busy, there is a danger of becoming desensitized to the environment.

While no two days are the same for Page, most shifts begin with reviewing the previous day’s incident/accident reports. This allows Page to stay engaged, identify potential problems and make sure everyone is getting the job done safely and efficiently. He said that as larger ships continue to call Georgia’s deepwater ports and cargo volumes increase, GPA remains committed to ensuring everyone leaves work the same way they arrived.

“We want to keep safety at the forefront,” Page said. “I think we’ve been successful in that — GPA has always had a strong foundation in safety.”

“It just requires us to be a little more vigilant in what we do,” he added.

The logistics industry is all about time and movement, Page said. He stressed that taking extra time to do the job right often makes the difference in accident prevention.

Page said one of the most significant improvements to daily operations has been roundabouts which drastically improved users’ ability to navigate the terminal. The roundabouts’ effects are two-fold – eliminating intersections and maintaining production.

Traffic flow has also changed, particularly in the container field, which supports the high volume of vehicles on terminal. The transition to rubber tired gantry cranes (RTGs) has been instrumental in improving on-terminal safety. RTGs are equipped with multiple safety components including cameras, ultrasonics and gantry alarms.

When first beginning work on one of GPA’s terminals, Page says a tour is vital. He offers these tips to new terminal users:

  • Get familiar with your surroundings.
  • Be deliberate in your actions.
  • Don’t do anything that would surprise someone in close proximity to you.
  • Drive defensively.

He would also like to see more terminal users taking stronger ownership of safety at an individual level.

“An individual ownership results in active involvement, which in turn leads to a safer environment,” Page said. “Identifying safe behavior allows workers to transfer those skills to the next person.”

Another major component is GPA’s Port Police officers. Page said Port Police are a “driver of safety” and have a huge impact on operations.

 “Having them be available and actively involved has proven highly beneficial to keeping this a safer place, especially as volumes increased,” he said.

He noted that Port Police often use the phrase, “If you see something, say something,” and that is applicable to any situation.

“We need to know when there’s something that we’ve allowed to become an issue so it can be resolved,” he said. “Conversely, when we see someone doing something right, we need to recognize that and mimic that behavior.”