The Netherlands: APM Terminals Improves Safety Culture
APM Terminals takes an unusual organizational step to further improve its safety culture: The Hague-based global port and inland operator, often highlighted and awarded as safety leader in the industry, has decided to assign one of its most experienced and trusted executives as an internal Safety Activist.
This organizational step, previously unseen in the port business, is described by APM Terminals’ CEO Kim Fejfer as a strategic move to achieve a major leap forward in safety. “The sole purpose of this new and unique type of executive assignment is to drive the company’s safety culture forward to a new degree of excellence. And we have found the best person possible for this task,” says Kim Fejfer.
The new special Safety Activist assignment has been awarded to Martin Poulsen, for the past six years CEO of APM Terminals’ Europe region. Mr. Poulsen is a true veteran of the port business, having been with APM Terminals since the company was established as an individual entity in 2001. He is broadly respected for his business experience, leadership excellence and vast insight in all aspects of operations.
Martin Poulsen will focus on mobilizing the global APM Terminals organization to address the constant safety challenges in the port operations. The work in global ports is often complex, and danger constantly prevails when large-scale machinery mix with dock labor and external trucks. Working in heights, extremely heavy lifts and the danger of falling objects adds to the risk. The recently issued Sustainability Report 2011 from APM Terminals openly stated that despite progress in the overall safety performance, APM Terminals has yet to achieve a significant reduction in fatal accidents.
“Our ambition at this point is to eradicate fatalities and severe incidents. What we need is the mindset of an activist, fighting for a just cause. And Martin Poulsen is the person to fully mobilize the organization in the daily battle against dangers in the workplace,” says Kim Fejfer.
The new role as Safety Activist is not a traditional executive job, but a temporary strategic assignment of a complex nature – and therefore best suited for an experienced executive with license to investigate and improve. APM Terminals will still uphold a permanent safety organization, but part of Mr. Poulsen’s internal activist duties will be to work closely with – and potentially develop – the existing safety team. After the assignment is completed he is expected to return to a high-level business line role.
Martin Poulsen himself states that the task of progressing safety culture and performance is “probably the most important challenge at this point in time in the port industry.
For my entire career I have been privileged to be involved in some of the most important areas of our business – growing the business substantially through business development as well as significantly improving day-to-day operations. Right now, I am honored and happy to offer my experience and full attention to the most important thing you can strive for: That everybody returns home safe from work.”
Dredging Today Staff, April 25, 2012; Image: APM Terminals