Keeping port operations running smoothly involves significant numbers of contractors and subcontractors who affect each other's services. These include haulers, harbor authorities and stevedore firms for seaports; and at airports, catering trucks, passenger and airport support vehicles, travelling at varying speeds and directions. The impact of a vehicle hitting an aircraft could be substantial, causing delays and costing companies a significant amount to rectify.
The majority of accidents at sea ports occur in the cargo handling area, and 35% of these involve vehicles. Both seaports and airports are extremely busy environments, with multiple vehicle movements, workers and passengers mingling together. Hazards include:
Pedestrians and objects being struck due to vehicle blind spots.
Inability to see pedestrians/co-workers due to adverse weather and nighttime conditions.
Workers wearing ear protection unable to hear approaching vehicles.
Passengers cannot be heard over the noise of tonal vehicle alarms.
Electrically-powered vehicles make it difficult for people to hear them approaching.
In 2017, at an airport in the United States, an incident occurred involving a 48-year-old grounds worker who was painting lines on a runway when he was struck and killed by a vehicle. A 22-year study by the NTSB recorded 80 accidents involving ground workers, including 21 fatalities. Vehicular collisions with an aircraft made up 43% of accidents.
Meanwhile, the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) singled out on-site traffic accidents as a serious problem for marine terminals. From 2005 to 2012, OSHA recorded 88 fatalities at sea ports, 52 of which were the result of transportation accidents.
Vehicle safety experts, such as Brigade Electronics, are working with airports and sea ports to retrofit vehicle safety systems onto tugs, vans, coaches, reach stackers, tippers, and catering trucks. Vehicle safety camera systems, such as Brigade's Backeye360, can eliminate blind spots and provide a 360-degree bird's eye view of the vehicle and its surroundings.
Ultrasonic sensors are also ideal for use in confined spaces or maneuvering at low speeds. The driver is alerted to obstacles or people close to the vehicle, whether moving or stationary. Ultra proximity sensors provide audible and/or in-cab warning informing of distance, while an optional external speaking alarm can be added to alert pedestrians that a vehicle is turning.
Electric vehicles used to transport passengers, luggage and trolleys around the airport are another example of potential accident risk. Tonal alarms fitted to some vehicles failed to solve the problem as the beeping of an approaching vehicle is lost in the hustle and bustle of a busy airport environment. Tonal alarms also make it difficult to establish which vehicle is moving and in which direction. Multi-frequency reversing alarms, which use white sound, solve this problem with a safer, more effective alternative and can even be heard when wearing ear protection. The concentrated 'ssh ssh' sound is contained to the danger zone and is easily located, making it safer for pedestrians. The directional aspect of the alarm system makes it invaluable for people who are visually or hearing impaired.
The rise in popularity of electric vehicles also creates a hazard as they are virtually silent at low speeds. To address this, Brigade has developed the Quiet Vehicle Sounder (QVS). It can be retrofitted to hybrid/electric vehicles to produce an instantly-locatable sound while the vehicle is traveling at low speeds, enabling passengers to hear the vehicle approaching so they can move aside safely.
A safer future
With the safety of both workers and members of the public high on the agenda, it's clear that vehicle safety systems have a key role to play in the challenge to prevent accidents and save lives. www.brigade-electronics.com