PSA International, which was formerly called the Port of Singapore Authority, is one of the biggest maritime companies in the world. It is a port authority, which means that it operates terminals and related services at ports around the world. The company’s origins are in the city and country of Singapore, but PSA has grown over the years into a truly international company with operations in numerous ports and main operations in Singapore and Antwerp, Belgium.
As a maritime company that mostly operates off the water, PSA is still a workplace that can be risky for workers. Longshoremen and other workers in PSA terminals face a number of risks and can get hurt or even killed on the job if something goes wrong. These workers, like those who ply the waters of the world on seagoing vessels, have rights when injured on the job.
PSA is a large port operations company, providing terminal space and services at ports around the world. Operations for PSA include terminals at such ports as Guangzhou and Tianjin in China, Genoa and Venice in Italy, Mumbai and Chennai in India, Damman in Saudi Arabia, Busan in South Korea, Jakarta in Indonesia, and many, many others. PSA’s main operations are split between Antwerp and Singapore.
As a port operator, PSA provides services for loading and unloading of all kinds of cargo from various types of ships. It may also provide warehousing at ports. Across all its terminals, PSA handled 64 million TEUs of cargo in 2015, used over 2,000 cargo cranes in its operations, employed about 30,000 people, and handled 180,000 containers. PSA Marine, a subsidiary of the parent company, offers towage and piloting services with a fleet of tug and pilot vessels.
The history of PSA dates back to 1863. The leading Chinese merchant working in Singapore at the time, Tan Kim Ching, used approximately $120,000 to start Tanjong Pagar Dock Company and to purchase two steamships. This early company was the forerunner of the Port of Singapore Authority, and today, PSA International.
The Port of Singapore Authority was officially established in 1964 as an entity to be responsible for all the assets, liabilities, and functions of the area harbor board. PSA became an official corporation in 1997 and restructured in 2003 as the leading company under the PSA group of companies.
The PSA Mission
PSA states that it has a multi-pronged mission and value set that is devoted to being the best port operator in the world. The company aims to be a gateway hub for the world and to be the world’s port of call. It also claims to have a mission to put customers first and to focus on people, providing excellent services and embracing diversity and safety in its work force.
Safety Policies and Track Record
The safety philosophy used at PSA has several important points that help the company to maintain a good safety record. These include that all accidents can be prevented, that everyone is responsible for safety, that working in a manner that is safe is a condition of being employed by PSA, that improving safety is proactive, that safety and productivity go hand in hand, and that people must be trained and equipped in order to work safely.
PSA strives to use these points and three real strategies to keep workers safe. These strategies include having strong leadership within the company, monitoring and giving feedback constantly, and providing enough financial support in the budget to dedicate to safety measures. PSA can demonstrate that its dedication to safety pays off. Over the last decade it has handled more and more cargo and containers each year, while the number of accidents has either gone down or remained the same each year.
Despite a committed philosophy of safety, accidents happen. The port and terminal industry that PSA operates in is inherently dangerous and full of risks to workers. Port workers move cargo and large containers, operate machinery, handle electrical equipment and hazardous chemicals, and do it all while on the water and on or near large ships. Any failure in equipment or machinery, communications, training, or maintenance, and an accident can happen and a worker injured or killed.
As an example of the inherent danger and the multiple possibilities for ways that workers can get hurt, consider the strikes that have occurred at India’s Port of Chennai in recent years. Workers there have gone on strike after fatal accidents illustrated how dangerous their conditions are. In 2011 for instance, a truck loaded with containers from cargo ships ran into another vehicle. The port worker in that second vehicle died from resulting injuries. The Chennai terminal is operated by PSA.
PSA offers piloting services, which is also a dangerous type of port work. Pilots board ships coming into ports and take them to dock while also guiding ships out of port. In 2002 a PSA pilot in Singapore was injured as he disembarked from a ship he was piloting. Something went wrong with the gangway and he was thrown into the water.
Longshoremen and Port Workers’ Rights
These are just a couple of examples of how dangerous port and terminal work can be for a maritime company worker. Ports are busy places and no matter how seriously companies like PSA take safety, accidents are bound to happen. Accidents occur both in the busy terminals, on land, and in the busy waterways as large ships navigate in and out of ports.
All maritime workers are protected under maritime law and may sue an employer for compensation in the event of a workplace accident. If you were injured as a longshoreman, pilot, or other type of terminal worker, you have rights to seek compensation and get money to cover medical and other expenses. A maritime lawyer can be a useful ally when you need to sue your employer and demand the compensation you are owed. Never agree to any settlement until you have talked to this professional for guidance and advice.