TT Club's analysis focuses on the top 10 risks in container terminals, based on experience over the period 2014 to 2018. The analysis of these top 10 risks account for 78% of the cost of container terminal insurance claims, covering both assets and liabilities. Many of these incidents are preventable with better training, systems and procedures and/or technologies.


Specifically, the top 10 risks categories by insurance claim cost for container terminal operators are:

1. Quay cranes incidents

In container operations, the crane that is usually positioned near the edge of the quay is both a key asset and hugely vulnerable. It has remained for a number of years the single most costly insurance claim, with frequent incidents involving boom collisions, gantry collisions or stack collisions. Because of their importance it may be surprising that currently economically viable technologies are not more widely adopted.

2, Rain and flood damage

Much can be done to mitigate the potential and resultant damage of a storm. While it is critical to secure and tie assets, like cranes, or revise container stacks in the yard, a key risk remains storm surge and floods in general. Marine terminals are necessarily low-lying, so positioning more valuable equipment or goods to higher ground addresses the risks.

3. Straddle carriers

Manual straddle collisions and overturns, besides causing damage, usually cause serious bodily injuries. Like most incidents, these are commonly because of human error. While these are top-heavy items, with inevitable blind-spots, there are monitoring technologies available to ensure mechanical performance and also support user behaviour and training.

4. Risk - lift trucks

This classification includes fork lifts, empty handlers, top picks, side picks, reach stackers etc. While risks are various, one that stands out is injuries to pedestrians. Keeping people away from machines is a simple mantra; where unavoidable procedures and technologies need to protect those at risk.

5. Risk - truck and vehicles

Smaller vehicles, including internal transfer vehicles, third party trucks and all other vehicle on the terminal require good traffic management procedures and enforcement. Collisions and overturns are still very common.

6. Risk - ship in port

Ships are prone to collide with the berth and on many occasions the crane as well. The terminal may have little control, although clear procedures and communications between all stakeholders (ship, port, terminal, pilot, tug etc) may reduce the likelihood of such incidents.

7. Risk - yard crane

The main risk with yard cranes is stack collisions. This can lead to stack collapses causing crane, container and cargo damage. However, the greatest concern is the injuries often resulting when a container falls on a waiting truck. The analysis shows that the introduction of technologies associated with automated stacking cranes may prevent such incidents. The same technology can also be installed on manual yard cranes.

8. Risk – fire

Some 44% of the fire cost in container terminals arises amongst lift trucks. These need detection and suppression systems in the engine compartments, as well as assiduous attention to proper maintenance. Cargo related fires may be difficult to prevent on the limited information commonly available, but careful fire-fighting is critical in minimising the potential damage.

9. Risk – theft

TT Club and BSI recently published their annual theft report. While generic, this highlighted the ‘insider’ risk, which is prevalent in the terminal environment. The Club has previously highlighted the increasing use of cyber-crime to aid physical theft. Physical and system security is clearly crucial, alongside continuing awareness training and thorough checks for those allowed on site.

10. Risk - bad handling

Cargo in the custody of the terminal may become damaged. However, terminals also need to keep robust records in order to defend claims that may be asserted erroneously for which evidence of condition at entry and exit is required.

Credit: TT Club