APM Terminals is one of the largest port operators in the world. Shipping companies need terminals and ports to provide locations for docking and for the equipment and workers that move cargo and containers from ship to dock and beyond. This work environment is dangerous, though, and every year port and terminal workers are injured on the job, including some who work for APM Terminals.
APM is a big player in international shipping and terminals. The company has 72 port facilities with active operations, and nine more in the works, spread around the globe.
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These terminals include locations on five continents and in locations that include Port Elizabeth, New Jersey, Los Angeles, and Miami, several ports in Brazil, West African ports, the Middle East, India, Southeast Asia, and ports throughout Europe.
APM’s port operations are in 69 countries with over 20,000 employees. The company’s annual revenue in 2015 was $4.24 billion, and APM handled 36 million TEUs of container cargo in that same year.
APM is headquartered in The Hague in the Netherlands, and works with 60 different shipping lines. In 2015 the company was named the “Port Operator of the Year” by Lloyd’s List Global Awards.
Operations at APM Terminals
The largest part of APM’s business is in terminal operations. Port operations for the company are categorized by region: Africa and the Middle East, Europe, Asia, North America, Latin America, Russia, and the Baltics.
Operations at ports in these regions include full-service terminals providing loading and unloading of cargo, cranes, and other equipment and the workers who operate cranes and trucks and move cargo onto and off of ships.
In addition to the maritime services, APM has inland operations at most port locations. This includes storage and warehousing of cargo, maintenance, and repair, an inspection of containers, monitoring reefer containers, container cleaning, and trucking services to move cargo in and out terminals and ports.
Safety Policies at APM
APM states that it has a commitment to safety and has recognized and addressed five areas of greatest risk for accidents that harm workers:
- Lifting suspended loads
- Stored energy
- Working at height
- Controlling contractors
The company’s philosophy is to create safety excellence through safe equipment, safe people, and safe systems. This includes using technology, risk management, leadership and culture, and training to create safe work environments.
APM participates in the new guidance issued by the International Maritime Organization concerning the weights of containers. Inaccurate weights being reported have been a source of accidents in the past.
Now, companies like APM are using Verified Gross Mass to ensure that these weights are reported more accurately and that workers are provided with safer environments.
APM Worker Accidents
Despite strong safety policies, APM Terminals has faced many accidents that every maritime company is vulnerable to.
Ports and terminals are busy places with many people, equipment, and cargo moving around. It is easy for accidents to happen, including:
- Falls from a great height
- Falls into the water
- Cargo or containers striking workers
- Trips and falls
- Electrical accidents
- Exposure to harmful chemicals
- Vehicle accidents
Mistakes in communication, poor training, and equipment failures are all factors that can trigger such accidents.
APM workers have been the victims of some of these accidents in recent years. One of these occurred in 2015 when a dockworker was struck and hit by a vehicle at Port Elizabeth in New Jersey.
The worker, a 49-year-old woman, died after being hit by a top loader, a vehicle used to transport shipping containers. The driver of the loader and the worker killed both worked for APM at the port. The driver was later found to have been drinking, a clear violation of safety policies set by APM.
Another APM worker was killed in 2011 at Portsmouth. Paula Bellamy, a 38-year-old longshoreman, was dead within an hour of being hit by a forklift at the terminal.
She worked as a slinger, someone who guides crane operators. The forklift driver had no clear line of sight to the worker, standing on the dock, and struck her as he moved the vehicle forward.
Yet another incident at APM Terminals in Port Elizabeth occurred in 2015 when a crane injured a worker.
The worker was in a tractor-trailer used to move containers when a crane lifted it and then dropped it. The crane was supposed to lift a container from the tractor-trailer, but the container had not been correctly detached. Fortunately, the worker was only hurt and not killed in the incident.
Terminal Workers’ Rights and Maritime Law
Workers for APM Terminals and all longshoremen and port workers have certain rights under maritime law. They reasonably expect that the maritime company they work for will provide a safe environment with risks minimized as much as possible.
When something goes wrong and causes an accident, workers can expect to be compensated in some way. For those who die on the job, their dependents are also entitled to this compensation. Often in these accidents, negligence can be found to point to the maritime company responsible.
Most workers in ports and terminals, like those working for APM, are covered by the maritime law called the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. This law allows dock workers to seek workers’ compensation in the event of an accident on the job. No negligence needs to be proven to get this money.
It can go a long way toward paying for medical bills, providing benefits for lost wages, and even providing the funds needed to cover lost future earnings.
If you are a longshoreman or any maritime worker, ensure you know your rights under the law. If you are hurt on the job or die, you or your family should speak to a maritime lawyer to get the professional guidance that will lead to maximum compensation. With this expert advice, you can expect you and your family to be well protected.