As warnings were issued of the dangerous levels of port accumulation risks for some of the world’s biggest businesses a new guide has been issues to help ports navigate the threats from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Firms such as Exxon Mobil, Apple, General Motors and Walmart have been warned that they are “brutally exposed” to tens of billions of dollars of port losses in the US state of Texas alone according to new research by analytics firm Russell Group.
With the U.S. officially entering hurricane season, analysis by Russell quantified the flow of goods traded through the major ports in Texas to be $235 billion over the hurricane season.
Texas is America’s number one exporter annually by state ahead of California, New York and Washington. The state’s chief export is oil & gas. The value of Texas’ exports equals approximately one fifth of the United States’ overall exported products for 2019, and one fifth of the exposure is concentrated on 10 companies.
In the UK Mutual insurer and cargo specialist TT Club has partnered with the British Ports Association to highlight the issues posed by COVID-19 to ports.
The reports warned it is imperative to maintain the safety and well-being of all workers and more important than ever for employers to understand the unusual risks that they and their workforce face under unique circumstances. Ports of all size and type are having to alter their usual ways of working to ensure social distancing measures can be followed as much as possible.
“UK ports have demonstrated their resilience by continuing to facilitate 95% of the UK’s trade throughout the lockdown period, which includes half of the country’s food imports, along with medicines, energy and fuel,” the report stated. “Those port workers responsible for making it happen have been identified as ‘key workers’ by the Government and continue to need support as the lockdown now starts to be gradually lifted.”
Sara Walsh, Corporate Services Manager, at the British Ports Association said: “During this rather unusual and challenging time, all UK ports are under a lot of pressure. They are having to make difficult decisions about how best to maintain their workforce so critical tasks are performed and legal duties met, whilst also supporting staff who are working at home or are self-isolating.
“We are pleased to be working with TT Club to produce this short paper that addresses some of the key things UK ports and terminals must continue to prioritise when managing their workforce during COVID-19 and its immediate aftermath.
“The maritime sector is like no other and has worked together during this unprecedented time to overcome the challenges faced as best it can whilst still ensuring food, medicines, energy, fuel and other products continue to flow into the country.”
Michael Yarwood, TT Club’s Managing Director for Loss Prevention added: “Like many other sectors who have ‘key workers’, those who work at UK ports and terminals are in a unique position as the vast majority of roles cannot be performed at home.
“We have compiled a list of factors operators should consider as part of their risk assessments and management plans during the COVID-19 outbreak. From social distancing, cleaning facilities, personal protective equipment, shift patterns, communications to remote working and health and well-being, ports must continue to support their staff and ensure all risks are managed as best they can be.
“We are committed to supporting the industry in this effort and are continuing to create and collect resources such as this paper to guide good practice.”