The Panama Canal commemorates World Day for Safety and Health at Work

Every day, thousands of workers efficiently operate, maintain and manage the Panama Canal, which serves an average of 13,000 ships a year.

The mission of these Panamanian men and women is to enable waterway service to 180 shipping routes, connecting 170 countries with destinations to approximately 1,920 ports. In the operation of this scale, several risk factors are considered.

That’s why, to commemorate the World Day for Safety and Health at Work, the channel highlights the basic elements of its operation, occupational safety principles to prevent incidents or accidents.

The latest testimony to this is the timely and early response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which focused on the safety of the crew, as well as the crews of the ships that transited the canal seamlessly.

Thanks to the current occupational health and safety program, canal incidents can be anticipated and occupational diseases and property damages and their consequences can be addressed in a timely manner.

Comprehensive protection

The Panama Canal has several guidelines for identifying and controlling hazards for various work areas, along with a robust training, supervision and inspection program to identify hazards and reinforce safe work practices.

As part of its commitment to workers, the Panama Canal recently undertook a project to digitize industrial health and safety inspections. The project has streamlined and simplified the handling of information by digitizing many of the previously manual processes.

Assessing the impact of projects at their design levels on worker health and safety is a very effective tool for prevention.

Workers in every part of the canal — locks, workshops, and rolling or floating equipment — follow basic safety rules so they can coordinate common efforts at accident prevention. In this way, the workforce is protected and allows safe and profitable operation in the service of world trade for the benefit of the country.

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Maintenance is the key

The Panama Canal operates a multi-year maintenance program for all of its structures.

Maintenance tasks are planned through a system that allows establishing the tasks, times and people responsible for each one. In addition, customers are informed in advance when such maintenance is on locks.

In fiscal year 2022, the canal had a manpower of 606 employees and implemented a budget of B/.58.9 million.

– Major maintenance of engines.
– Rehabilitation of tracks and submerged equipment.
– Maintenance of fender systems.
– Gates and valves.
– Rails and electrical systems.

Commitment to country

The country is responsible for ensuring the availability of water in quantity and quality for the operation of the Panama Canal and for human consumption. This is made possible by implemented maintenance works and industrial safety policies.

This commitment has been fulfilled through the creation of the Water Environment Innovation, Research and Technology Center (CITEC), an initiative promoted by the conservation of Panama Canal water resources.

As part of the responsible management of water resources, the Panama Canal conducts annual functional tests of the 14 gates of the Cadun spillway in the canal to ensure that they are available for flood control when the reservoir reaches critical levels in the last quarters of the year.
Source: Panama Canal Authority

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