Death of Indonesian port worker highlights urgent need to improve safety

Fallen container killed truck driver at Depot of PT Berlian Jasa Terminal Indonesia, Tanjung Perak.

On August 15, at the Depot of PT Berlian Jasa Terminal Indonesia (PT BJTI) Tanjung Perak, Surabaya, Imam Kastiawan died when a container fell off the crane and hit the truck he was driving. 

The incident occurred during loading activities on the Green Samudra ship, which was about to head to Makassar from Surabaya. The lock on the reach stacker malfunctioned and the container fell on the truck driven by Imam, who was declared dead after being taken to the PHC Surabaya hospital.

The Indonesian police are investigating the incident, and PT BJTI will be carrying out an internal inquiry too.  PT BJTI’s head of public relations, Budi Hermawan said to the press: “We express our deepest condolences to the victim and ensure that we take full responsibility for this incident. Together with the police, we will find out the cause.” 

This incident is the first of its kind in Indonesia. In an interview with Maritime Fairtrade, Director of the National Maritime Institute (NAMARIN), Siswanto Rudi, said work safety of port workers has to be further improved. After this tragic event, Siswanto said “all parties must find out the causes, implement safeguards and ensure nothing similar will happen again. This incident may have occurred due to negligence. It could be due to the crane operator’s negligence or equipment problems.” 

According to Siswanto, to further improve work safety for port workers, a number of important aspects needed immediate attention from port operators and regulators, one of which is the issue of equipment worthiness. He said: “At the port, sometimes there are equipment which are leased from third-party vendors. And this is a vulnerable point because there may not be strict monitoring of whether vendors routinely inspect and maintain their equipment.

“This same principle also applies to those who are leasing the equipment, who do not have their own maintenance program.  So far, there is also no oversight from the regulator.  There has to be a dialogue among the government as regulator, port operators and vendor who owned the equipment.  Importantly, there has to be a strict safety protocol where each party has to follow.”

Special attention must be given to the licensing of crane operators, said Siswanto.  All crane operators must be licensed in order to work in ports and terminals and there must be strict enforcement to ensure their licenses are genuine and up to date.  Also, he added: “The presence of a supervisor to monitor whether the crane has been completely locked and in which direction the crane will move is also very necessary.”

Siswanto said the Indonesian government, as regulator, has a responsibility to make sure that all safety regulations are followed.  For example, a container terminal is regulated by the Regulation of the Minister of Manpower of the Republic of Indonesia number 8 of 2020, which applies to cranes, trucks, and lifting and transportation equipment. Under this law, crane operators are required to have a Class 1 operator K3 license above 15 tons. In addition, during the loading process, no one is allowed in the lifting zone.

Another regulation is the International Ship and Port Security Code (ISPS Code) under IMO (International Maritime Organization) which specifically regulates activities and lays out steps that must be taken in tackling potential hazards at sea and ports, including the maintenance of port support facilities.

After signing and ratifying the ISPS Code through KEPPRES No. 65/1980 regarding the ratification of SOLAS 1974 which was then followed by the Decree of the Minister of Transportation No. KM 33/2003 concerning the enforcement of the 1974 SOLAS Amendment concerning the Security of Ships and Port Facilities in the territory of Indonesia, port operators are obliged to comply with this regulation. 

In the ISPS code, each port is required to have a Port Facility Security Officer, beside the security aspect, a big part of the job scope involves ensuring and improving the work safety of port workers.

Photo credit: Photo showing truck crushed by container leaked anonymously to the press.

Ibnu Wibowo

Ibnu Wibowo

Ibnu Wibowo, Indonesia journalist, is a former political journalist with high dedication and determination to his craft. He is interested in writing about politics and international relations.

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