Title: Six Sigma approach to reducing fall hazards among cargo handlers working on top of cargo containers: a case study

Authors: Edith Ng, Fugee Tsung, Richard So, T.S. Li, K.Y. Lam

Addresses: Department of Industrial Engineering and Engineering Management, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Clear Water Bay, Kowloon, Hong Kong SAR, China. ' Department of Industrial Engineering and Engineering Management, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Clear Water Bay, Kowloon, Hong Kong SAR, China. ' Department of Industrial Engineering and Engineering Management, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Clear Water Bay, Kowloon, Hong Kong SAR, China. ' Safety and Environmental Protection Office, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Clear Water Bay, Kowloon, Hong Kong SAR, China. ' The Logistics Cargo Supervisors Association, 2/F., 14–16 Man Wah Building, Ferry Point, Kowloon, Hong Kong SAR, China

Abstract: In Hong Kong, more than 500,000 container units per year are handled by small midstream cargo operators located at the Public Cargo Working Areas (PCWAs). Unfortunately, over 600 fall accidents were reported at PCWAs over the past ten years resulting in more than 45 deaths. This paper reports the results of a Six Sigma study to reduce fall accidents at PCWAs. Work procedures leading to falls of cargo handlers from cargo containers are described and the sigma levels for the rates of such accidents are determined. With help from the Logistics Cargo Supervisors Association and the Hong Kong Occupational Safety and Health Council (OSHC), we conducted focus group interviews and questionnaire surveys at the PCWAs. Data indicated that jumping from one container to another and resting and standing on a lifted container are the most hazardous procedures. The three most critical factors are identified. They are: not concentrating at work; disregarding safety regulations; using worn-out hooks and slings. Detailed improvement actions to reduce the fall accident rates were identified. Control procedures were documented and passed to OSHC.

Keywords: six sigma technique; six sigma quality; define-measure-analyse-improve-control; DMAIC; occupational safety; fall hazards; Hong Kong; cargo handlers; cargo containers; fall accidents; hazard reduction.

DOI: 10.1504/IJSSCA.2005.006424

International Journal of Six Sigma and Competitive Advantage, 2005 Vol.1 No.2, pp.188 - 209

Published online: 07 Mar 2005 *

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