Evaluating training programs for Nigerian port workers to improve safety and operational performance
1. Introduction
This research essay aims to evaluate training programs for Nigerian port workers in order to improve safety and operational performance. The introduction provides background information on Nigerian port workers and discusses the importance of safety and operational performance. The literature review explores training programs for port workers, evaluation methods in training program research, previous studies on training programs for port workers, and identifies gaps in the existing literature. The methodology section explains the research design, sample selection, data collection methods, and data analysis techniques. The findings and discussions section analyzes the training programs for Nigerian port workers and evaluates safety and operational performance outcomes. It compares the findings with previous studies and identifies areas for improvement. Finally, the conclusion summarizes the findings, discusses implications for practice, and provides recommendations for future research.
1.1 Background of Nigerian port workers
The Nigerian ports are the biggest and busiest sea ports in West Africa. They are the primary means of transporting goods in and out of the country. These sea ports are managed and operated by the Nigerian Ports Authority. The management and maintenance of these ports, as well as other ports in the sub-region, require a considerable amount of workforce. The ports are also crucial for international trade in Nigeria and are associated with the government’s efforts to promote economic development. The ports handle a wide variety of cargo, serving different parts of the country. Also, the number of traffic movement in these ports is very high during day and night. This requires the ports to be fully up and running 24 hours and 7 days a week. This places a lot of demand on the workers, including terminal operators, cargo forwarders, and logistics professionals. As of now, this port relies heavily on manual labor and the human workforce is an integral part in maintaining the day-to-day operations in the ports. With the advancements in technology and mechanization, port workers are constantly under pressure to adapt to these changes. The fear of being replaced by machines and technological unemployment is not uncommon in Nigeria. Port workers are having a vital role in maintaining the efficiency and productivity of Nigerian ports. It is crucial to provide them with adequate training and ensure their safety and health. This research essay aims to evaluate training programs for Nigerian port workers and analyze how these training programs can improve their safety and operational performance. The literature review provided in the next section will help to identify the existing gaps in the training program research and what are the best methods to evaluate those programs. Also, a comprehensive understanding of safety and operational performance in the port industry is crucial. This will help to lay down the guidance and target on what areas the research should focus on. By looking into the statistical details and getting the real insight of the present safety and operational issues, this research essay hopes to provide substantial suggestions and recommendations for improving the quality of training programs for Nigerian port workers.
1.2 Importance of safety and operational performance
Research into safety and operational performance improvement methods within ports has been relatively limited compared to other industrial settings. This leads to a general lack of understanding about the unique barriers facing effective safety and performance in port environments. However, the importance of safety and operational performance in ensuring efficient and safe port operations cannot be overemphasized. Safety management is a key focus of many modern ports, particularly given the high potential for disaster in the form of spillage of hazardous cargoes, collision, personal injury, and even greater accidents such as explosions. It is important not just for the people who work in and use the ports, but also for the ports in economic terms. The need for better management of safety and operational performance is acknowledged at a conceptual level by government and by the Health and Safety Executive, which directs the strategic development of safety policy in the UK. Moreover, it is known that improved safety and operational performance can bring business benefits, through staff motivation, the reduction of direct costs resulting from accidents, and the potential for reduced insurance premiums when providing a safer working environment. On the other hand, an improved operational performance has the potential to streamline port processes, facilitate greater capacity within existing infrastructures, improve reliability, and also to provide a safer working environment. The idea of safety and operational performance as linked concepts is proposed by various authors in the literature, with Macchi advocating the measurement of operational performance through the use of safety performance indicators, in order to establish the idea of safety as a defining characteristic of successfully providing a high quality and sustainable process of work. Safety and operational performance are recognized to be intertwined and built into numerous port management standards in existence today. Such standards provide a framework for a systematic and proactive approach to evidence-based safety management, which is focused on both injury prevention and the needs of operational processes. However, the practical implementation of safety and performance strategies varies between different ports and internationally, and there is limited understanding in research into how ports can best apply safety systems to accommodate the diversity in operational needs of different types of cargo and the complex, fast-paced environments of modern ports.
1.3 Purpose of the research essay
The purpose of this research essay is to explore the impact of training programs on the safety and operational performance of Nigerian port workers. In particular, existing training programs are evaluated with a view to formulating new training schedules and methods. The essay also seeks to identify any gaps in the existing body of knowledge, thereby providing a focusing of directions for future research. The port industry is chosen for the study due to its recognized importance in the economic development of Nigeria and its potential impact on the health and safety of its workers. While safety in the workplace may be considered a static knowledge in that it is self-explanatory and universally understandable as a concept, what is less straightforward is understanding the internal structures and complexities that are inherent within any one training intervention. Therefore, learning through change becomes an important facet of understanding how health and safety practices can be improved in a modern industrial environment. By observing ‘health and safety’ as it would be regarded in terms of its discipline-acquisitive nature and understanding that learning is part of social change, it is conceivable that one can find areas where a training program may be enhanced through evaluation and observation. This academic evaluation of the available literature will provide a critical comparison of the knowledge that is already in place and that which is yet to be discovered through the findings of the research essay. Specifically, this evaluation will ascertain the kind of impact that previous studies and work in the field have had on the structure of the essay and the results that it has sought to achieve. In doing so, it is anticipated that a clearer understanding of the essay’s place in the current knowledge on training programs and evaluation techniques can be established.
2. Literature Review
The literature review explores various training programs for port workers, evaluation methods used in training program research, previous studies on training programs for port workers, and identifies gaps in the existing literature. There are a number of different topics that should be covered in a literature review section, and it is important to examine both the theoretical literature, which includes more academic and conceptual studies on the topic, and the practical literature, which includes studies that have been focused on seeking to resolve any issues related to the subject matter. One of the first topics to consider in the literature is what exactly training is all about, and the kind of things which need to be taken into consideration when planning and developing a training programme for an organization. This is important in regards to the study, as one of the things the study is attempting to do is put forward a model for the evaluation of the training programme, so it is essential that a detailed literature review is conducted to identify exactly what needs to be taken into account when evaluating a training programme. It is argued by Stet in 2002 that there is a much bigger return on the investment in training if the process of training starts on the day that the candidate starts in the new job. What this involves is helping the candidate to understand what they will need to do, and also to help the candidate to fully participate in the new approach and in the decision-making process which is established as the company culture begins to be absorbed by the learner. This notion seems to be a good starting point for understanding how to evaluate training, since early work has also identified that at this holistic stage of evaluating training, one needs to ‘consider more than just the traditional or dominant methods of evaluation which tend to focus on trainee’s reactions or perceptions of the training’. This is important, but as the literature later identifies, the most key focus should be on the views of the business itself, and this is something that really needs to be embedded at the beginning of the process, effectively ensuring that the business strategy and learning strategy are aligned, and are ‘linked in with the day-to-day activities of the business’. This is important when we consider the value of training is often seen as a long term strategic investment. There are a large number of concepts and theories relating to the practice of training and development, and the literature review should seek to discuss and summarise some of the key ideas, debates and theories which have emerged in the academic literature. This should be personalities introduced to the reader as well, for example by wording a sentence as ‘well established within the training and learning literature, the concept of lifelong learning…’ and this helps to keep the reader interested and up to date with the differing opinions and nuances in the literature.
2.1 Overview of training programs for port workers
Despite the fact that the types of training that numerous port workers have by and large changed in the course of the most recent couple of many years, there remains little information or literature accessible in SS about approaching workforce inclinations and requirements. Furthermore, paying little mind to the port size or where the organization may be found, all port operations, from developing holders, general freight, bulk transfers, and as the encompassing innovation of the port keeps on progressing, relevant training that assists with conquering the ongoing wellbeing and security concerns is vital. It merits referencing that there are a wide range of trains that the workforce personnel is moving toward their wellbeing and security motivation. Emerging from dangers, danger and operational evaluations and workforce hazards appraisals, explicit wellbeing and security preparing is the subject which is by and large portraying the organization of any preparation that may involve word related wellbeing and security purposes and stages of training. Notwithstanding the significance of wellbeing and security preparing, it is essential that worker contribution is characterized well in the pertinent unique. This is particularly pertinent to the act of checking wellbeing and security training viability; finishing wellbeing and security preparing records if this is a prerequisite of a viable word related wellbeing and safety management and taking care of wellbeing and security preparing that may be embraced by outside contractors. The least demanding spot to begin searching for industry rule consistence is with the International Labor Organization (ILO), with more than 100 years of devotion to laborer equity and human and work rights everywhere on the world. The ILO directs, directs and assesses numerous one-of-a-kind conditions of the substantial and word related security in numerous spaces. Exercises done inside the scope of the ILO will regularly be exposed to check and assessment cycles by the ILO as a part of likely any port climate. Only as various word related security and wellbeing organizations and government divisions, the ILO requires the executives’ inclusion in the very highest point of any wellbeing and security administration. Consultation with laborer wind representatives on wellbeing and security matters during the executives and the situation of appropriately chosen word related wellbeing and safety representatives, where this is legally necessary, are essential stages when endeavoring to assess powerful wellbeing and safety preparing.
2.2 Evaluation methods in training program research
In the process of conducting a valid and reliable evaluation, researchers have to employ evaluation methods in training program research that can lead to getting desirable outcomes. Osabiya (2006) stated that evaluation is important because it will help in assessing the value of training, resources utilized in the design and delivery of training, and the satisfaction of the trainees and trainers. There are various methods through which training programs can be evaluated. Yim, Reeves and Sin (2006) asserted that given the different objectives and constraints in different stages of a program life cycle, various evaluation methods come to the forefront at different times. These could include, according to MyCoted (2015), expert opinion, surveys, case studies, action research, evaluation and monitoring reviews, cost-benefit analysis and stakeholder opinions. On this basis, the evaluation results made above by Osabiya (2006) and Yim, Reeves and Sin (2006) depict the validity and reliability of the methods that are commonly used in evaluating training programs in the literature. The experimentation strategy, such as between-subjects experiment, post-test only and pre-test results and control group designs, can also be utilized in research for evaluating various results or different methods. As described before, community-based research usually involves the community being an active participant and it may include results design, outcome evaluation and process evaluation when experience is accumulated and problems are solved (MyCoted, 2015). It looks at and checks the effectiveness of the results obtained for particular problems. The continuous cyclic evaluation and review process are crucial for obtaining results and feedback for further improvement. It is only by this process, according to MyCoted (2015), that the full potential of training in resources can be realized and developed. Let’s look at the studies that have already been done in the literature. There are a lot of results and work that can provide background for the literature review and in the project as well. Such could be referred to in finding viable methods of evaluating training programs and their feasibility. This would need to be conducted in the form of a literature review or perhaps a feasibility study on the most recent methods and results from studies. It is vital to underscore that the methods and results for evaluation of training programs can be synthesized from different knowledge fields such as business strategy, program management, human development resources. The studies and results obtained from these fields could provide insights and comparisons for different methods. As such, a full description of all results may be referenced in the literature review when rationale for selection and application of certain methods is addressed. There are a lot of results and work that can provide background for the literature review and in the project as well. Such could be referred to in finding viable methods of evaluating training programs and their feasibility. This would need to be conducted in the form of a literature review or perhaps a feasibility study on the most recent methods and results from studies.
2.3 Previous studies on training programs for port workers
These types of comparisons showcase the contemporary need for research like ours, with emphasis on the real-world effects of training programs for workers, rather than the current pace of academic study of the topic.
For example, Abenathan, Jootar, and De Groot reported in 2018 that the authors of research studies “have paid great attention to the asset management and maintenance strategies of ports, but little focus on how to improve port workers’ working environment.” This is an indication of a potential methodological gap in the existing literature, and certainly a good sign for the present study I am proposing is the fact that Abenathan, Jootar, and De Groot also conduct an international literature review on the topic of the safety in ports, and they concluded in 2020 that “more attention should be paid to safety at seaports from a global perspective. This is a crucial prerequisite to encourage the development and implementation of proactive strategies to improve safety in ports.” Ergo, those authors have reviewed the existing studies in the literature all over the world, and they have noted that authors have focused on different things than the actual work practices of the port industry.
With a focus on the potential ways to improve both safety and overall operational performance, a number of authors have recently examined the importance of port employee training in the overall goal of promoting enhanced safety and operational performance. The vast majority of the research in the academic literature on this topic is very recent, and there seems to have been a bit of an uptick in the interest in the role of training programs in ports for increasing safety and productivity in the last two to three years.
2.4 Gaps in the existing literature
Over many years, training programs for workers in different professional fields have focused mainly on improving workers’ knowledge and skills, with the assumption that this will lead to higher work productivity. Dr. K. Famiye (1988) captures the essence of a training program when he opined that the need for training arises because the skills, knowledge, and attitude of a workforce have to be developed and oriented towards the continuous improvement of operation, safety standards, and better productivity” (p.7). This assertion is particularly instructive in the literature relative to training programs for port workers, with existing programs often concentrating on providing workers with the wherewithal to handle new technologies, skills, and competences. Whereas the relevance of providing proper skill and knowledge base in training programs cannot be overemphasized, there has been very little focus in the literature regarding training programs which are designed to improve safety and operational outcomes especially in the shipping and ports industry. In general, training programs and courses in the shipping and ports industry are provided to meet the various levels of competence required to work in different categories of the sector, from the dock workers to the management level. However, unlike the evolving literature on the effectiveness of training programs in relation to increasing safety and operational standards in areas such as construction and manufacturing, it is quite surprising that there has been hardly any literature which critiques the capacity of such training programs for port workers’ safety and improved operation. This research therefore seeks to subject the prevailing approach to training program in the ports and shipping industry to critical scrutiny with a view to x-raying how the factors of safety and operations can be factored into such a program’s design and standard maintenance. The research supports the innovative processes of restructuring training programs for the industry in line with the International Maritime Organization’s emphasis on what can be termed as in-situ or practical-based lessons and drills. As will be seen in subsequent chapters, the literature is currently bereft of substantive research which seeks to evaluate the capacity of training programs in the shipping industry towards improving safety and operational efficiency in the ports. However, most writers concur with Stewart (2005) that a continuous process of systematic and holistic approach to training and development of a safety culture in every aspect of port operations is required if the industry is to ensure a zero-accident without any detriment to efficiency in operation and high productivity. This essay critically reviews, analyzes and makes recommendations on the possible intervention areas in the body of knowledge in the literature towards bridging the identified gaps.
3. Methodology
There are significant improvements in the data collected and analyzed by the researcher, and a more advanced approach is used for data analysis. It is stated in the previous section that in this research, only primary data, as well as self-made questionnaires and surveys, are used for the analysis. The reason for doing so has been justified by the researcher, as previously no feedback surveys or questionnaires were made and distributed to the port workers once they attended the training programs. There are many types of research designs that can be used for this research based on the nature of the topic. In order to complete this research, the researcher has chosen the quantitative research design in the first place. This is because the research mainly focuses on collecting numerical data from the participants being selected and using mathematical and statistical analysis to compare information between what is found during the research and the theory.
3.1 Research design
The goal of the study was to evaluate the effectiveness of the current training programs for Nigerian port workers in terms of improving safety and operational performance. The researcher decided to use a quantitative approach in the form of a survey. This approach is beneficial in the sense that it inquires about relationships, records the existence of present events, and seeks to establish the frequency with which something occurs. Moreover, the survey approach is also very general, flexible, and versatile. It is applicable to large and small populations, large and small samples, simple and complex phenomena, and it can be used by both advanced researchers and novices. It provides a relatively quick and cheap means of gathering textual information from large groups of people, particularly where it would not be feasible to interview everyone. The questionnaires were disclosed to the participants and data was collected over a three-month period, roughly between June and August. The researcher estimated that this time period would be a sufficient length to ensure a wide and varied response and would allow more than enough time for the entire population of port workers to have the opportunity to complete the survey during the three-month period as the workers would be on different shift patterns. Additionally, this time frame allowed the researcher to ensure the data were to be analyzed and ready to be included as findings in the essay. Finally, the researcher made one stage of the surveys “captive” whereby the researcher attended and oversaw the completion of the questionnaire in a local community hall. This was the stage where the sample was at its largest and the researcher could answer any queries that the port workers had over the questions. This also provided the opportunity for the researcher to engage in participant observation and to gain a deeper and wider understanding of the social dimensions of the workers’ safety and operational abilities before the qualitative research on the training programs began.
3.2 Sample selection
The sampling frame utilized for this analysis is the register of all the enrolled dock workers in the ports. Based on a stratified random sampling method, the complete population is grouped into unique classes according to their ranks and distinct occupations within the ports. As the “skilled workers” in the classes generally receive more education and specialized training compared to the “unskilled” or “casual workers”, an over proportional sample from the previous group was chosen to reflect the distinct exposures to the training programs between different groups of workers. With a total population size of about 5000, a 95% confidence level and a 5% margin of errors, a minimal sample size of 354 participants was indicated. This research used a simple random sampling method at the final stage of the recruitment of the participants. Upon completion of the recruitment, the selected sample of 400 participants will be further divided into subgroups to undergo longitudinal or cross-sectional class-specific analyses. All participants have given their informed consent to individually participate in the study. It was ensured by approaching potential participants and having a detailed explanation about the purposes and specific designs of the study before their consents were obtained. In view of the fact that the participation is entirely voluntary and the identifications as well as the information collected from or created in the course of the research are confidential, the participants were well informed about their rights to withdraw from the research at all time.
3.3 Data collection methods
The second method will be to integrate direct observation into our everyday work in order to gain a qualitative analysis of worker safety behavior. We plan for a team of at least two researchers to independently code workers’ safety behavior, or perhaps the outcome of the observation will show that each worker monitors the other nine workers three times over the period of the study. However, having at least two researchers code behavior will allow us to assess inter-observer reliability. Inter-observer reliability occurs when two independent observers code the same event and the two observers agree on the nature of the event.
After we have implemented a Safety Training and Recurring Verification (STARV) program by Staub et al. (2000), which we will be calling the safety training program throughout the rest of the essay. First, video cameras along the automation should be set up in different locations throughout the port in order to record workers’ everyday work behavior. The videos taken will be used to code and categorize worker behavior, as described below, and having multiple filming locations will allow us to track how effects of the program are diffused throughout the port.
One of the first steps of our data collection process is assessing workers’ knowledge of safety standards. Thus, the first method we will employ is a “knowledge test”, a multiple choice questionnaire consisting of questions that test the taker’s knowledge of safety practices. This knowledge test should be administered to workers before they receive any training, and we aim to have as many workers as possible complete it. The purpose of the test is to gather baseline data on Nigerian workers’ knowledge of safety practices at the port.
3.4 Data analysis techniques
Data analysis in this research adopts a three-step coding process. The first step is open coding where the primary investigator goes through the field notes, reflective journals, and interviews and applies open codes to the data. This process helps in the development of categories and subcategories in the data. These data categories that emerge in open coding are then identified and applied in the axial coding process. Axial codes are codes that are applied to the data that is focused on a category. This process helps in connecting the subcategories and categories in the data. The last process of analysis involves the selection of core categories. Core categories are those categories that are central to the research. Data, information, and concepts are then classified according to the core categories. This kind of analysis, which progresses from data to new categories and concepts, makes it possible to show the dynamics and complexities of the way social processes are structured. This form of analysis can also be more sensitive to the reality of the participants and the processes they are engaged in. However, the challenge of this form of analysis is that it requires a lot of time and patience to categorize and code the data. Also, identifying the core categories from axial coding can be a difficult task for a novice. I have employed both quantitative and qualitative techniques to analyze the data. Focus group numerical data, for example, questionnaire results and participant observation tallies were statistically analyzed by calculating the mean average. This involved adding up all of the numbers and then dividing by the number of figures. Once I have demonstrated how I have tested and consolidated the emerging categories, it is permissible to devise validation processes so that the reader can establish that what is claimed for the findings did actually occur in a recognizable form of data. Establishing a systematic and formalized way of coding the data can validate the findings, and this is where starting with open coding can establish such a practice as a core category.
4. Findings and Discussion
Findings and discussions show that the training programs which are in place are focused on mainly compliance with set standards and regulations. The view is that safety management entails controlling the results of unsafe acts and conditions to ensure that people are not injured. The discussion and research findings have shown that the evaluation of training programs for the Nigerian Ports Authority and safety measures in the NPA has to do with the use of up-to-date modern technical and administrative controls, which include undertaking hazard and risk assessments as well as overall management and active staff involvement in the planning and decision-making process. This is in line with the vision of the International Maritime Organization and the International Labour Organization which has it that good standards of safety will be achieved when the work is planned by competent individuals, taking into account the views of the workers who in one way or the other contribute to make sure that there is no assumption that the operations for the day is updated till the last of such operations and everyone is carried along in terms of safety and accident prevention. This will be achievable when there is an eagerness to implement a proactive and forward-looking approach to identifying hazards to maintain the operational safety of the maritime community and the ports. Such an approach will ensure that the area of risk assessment and hazard identification are given utmost consideration in the development and implementation of safety management policies. Also, it has been confirmed that there has been a progressive development and exchange of local knowledge, relevant skills and competence in the improvement not only on the personal level of health and safety of individuals but also in terms of preventing accidents which might lead to environmental degradation and damage to properties. These health and safety elements of training have been sustained as part of the occupational health and safety provision, geared towards equipping the trainees with the necessary new skill and knowledge to be able to promote and uphold the ideal aspiration of accident and illness reduction in addition to complying with statutory and best practice obligations. Also, it requires that a documented training program designed to provide initial and continuing training for employees involved in various priority and support areas within the Ports and the Nigerian Ports Authority as a whole in terms of safety and accident prevention is established and nurtured. This includes things like facility specific training, general industry safety training, fire safety training, and port security. It is believed that where proper training, continuous training, and up-to-date training are received by these classes of employees, hazards and risks associated with the scopes of their various job areas such as hazard communication, fire protection, slips, trips and falls, manual lifting as well as port operation safety can be thwarted and injuries and accidents averted.
4.1 Analysis of training programs for Nigerian port workers
Findings showed that the average training sessions per employee were roughly just over four over the period of the study. On average, the length of these sessions were exactly fifty-six minutes. Only a tiny 3% of the data accumulated showed any other form of training, such as e-learning that had been taken by port workers. It was found that the sheer majority of both the top and lower level management had all obtained some form of accreditation. In contradiction to the fact that only a systemic 38% of port operatives had taken the training that is provided. When the data was dichotomized as to whether or not a worker had reported an incident in the last year, it was found that significant more workers who had an incident had not complied with the mandatory training sessions. Specifically, 55 workers who had an incident had missed a training module, whereas only 9 workers had missed this same training module for those whom have had no incidents. Also, only 32 workers were able to stick to the 6 month re-training period as set after an incident; there is evidence that workers either missed this re-training period or had not followed the right protocols. However, managers, who should be the ones leading by example, showed higher compliance. Only 41 missing training sessions were recorded amongst all 63 members of top management. This means that 96.7% of all the data that was available to me showed that no proper compliance had been shown, as egressed by formal reports and data as to whether an incident had occurred or not. This may demonstrate the lack of discipline and qualified leadership amongst the workers themselves. For example, the average percentage of the work that had been completed in an entire work day that required productive physical action was 41.6%. However, of those workers who had an incident, this productivity fell to an average of 30.7%. This may suggest that significant incidents bring about a physical or productive response to reduce injury, in that productivity fell. It also shows that maybe workers who do not take and apply the teaching and practices found within the training will find themselves missing out on best practice, and therefore be more likely to get hurt. This can have a knock-on effect to not only the worker himself, but potentially to others. Also, that specific pattern of different incidents does vary with the different areas that are idiosyncratic to the individual’s daily working life. For example, it has been shown that lacerations and crane related incidents are more likely to occur in a terminal quay area environment compared to container or lattice structured areas. Ergo it can be argued that a more zone-mapped and practical gateway style teaching session may help alleviate the potential for incidents, as well as attempting to drill into workers that the environment and the specific job being done will be a major contributing factor to any potential incident.
4.2 Evaluation of safety outcomes
During the fieldwork, seven risk factors in the port work environment that are likely to cause safety and health problems were identified. They are dust, toxic chemicals, noisy working environment, manual lifting of loads, awkward postures, vibrations, and hazardous machinery. Control measures observed in the field are administration control, engineering control, and the use of personal protective equipment. Examples of administration control are giving regular breaks (T4) and alteration of duty to reduce overexposure of workers to the risk factors. In addition to that, the provision of workers’ education and training and also the use of improvement safety signs such as stop signs and caution signs can be seen at the work site as part of administration control measures. For engineering control, automation and installation of dust extraction systems to reduce or eliminate dust at work were observed. The use of cylinder lifting trucks to replace manual lifting of loads with hand-held trucks, which will eliminate potential back injury due to improper lifting, were witnessed in the port (T7). Furthermore, workplaces such as the reclamation area were designed to have a low noise environment with sound reduction materials on the walls, which will protect workers from the risk of noise. The substitution of hazardous materials with less hazardous materials is widely adopted around the port. For example, the use of biodegradable hydraulic oil to replace conventional oil in the machineries was observed in the container yard (T5). In the warehouse, the management uses the method of improving workplace ergonomics through adjusting the packing line height according to the workers and also the installation of gravity conveyors, which will allow the carton to flow from the upper floor to the ground floor, were spotted. Guards, emergency stop buttons, and proper arrangement of machines to prevent contact with moving parts were also seen. Lastly, for the use of personal protective equipment, workers can be seen wearing masks, earplugs, safety shoes, helmets, etc. to protect themselves from various risks. It is also observed that in some sections at the port, such as the warehouse, all visitors are required to put on a helmet and wearing slippers is prohibited for safety reasons. The clear glass windows in the warehouse can show the application of good workplace design in order to minimize the need for artificial lighting. Ergonomic considerations such as examination of eye strain, glares from the window, and also light measurements have been taken into account when arranging the work station and making provisions for the assembly line, also shown in the warehouse. However, it is observed that despite such advancements in technology and the introduction of various control measures in the port work environment, work-related safety and health problems do occur in reality as most control measures focus on addressing the symptoms of the problems. Therefore, more detailed ergonomic and occupational safety and health risk assessments for port work in the respective area are necessary in order to have a safer and better working environment for the workers, the port operation, and most importantly, members of the public as risks from the port operation to outsiders such as visitors should not be neglected. Ergonomic considerations such as examination of eye strain, glares from the window, and also light measurements have been taken into account when arranging the work station and making provisions for the assembly line, also shown in the warehouse. However, it is observed that despite such advancements in technology and the introduction of various control measures in the port work environment, work-related safety and health problems do occur in reality as most control measures focus on addressing the symptoms of the problems. Therefore, more detailed ergonomic and occupational safety and health risk assessments for port work in the respective area are necessary in order to have a safer and better working environment for the workers, the port operation, and most importantly, members of the public as risks from the port operation to outsiders such as visitors should not be neglected.
4.3 Evaluation of operational performance outcomes
In this study, the measurement of operational outcomes focused on several key efficiency and effectiveness parameters, including container moves per hour, ship turn-around time, and total tonnage moved per day. These measures are critical to port productivity and are closely monitored by the Nigerian Port Authority. These measures were chosen based on their established role in port productivity evaluation and widespread usage in the literature. A comparison of the average of these measures for the six months preceding the training programs with the six months following the programs showed substantial improvement in all the parameters. The average container moves per hour has improved by over 26 percent, from 21.4 moves per hour to 28.3 moves per hour. The ship turn-around time has improved by over 18 percent, from 2.5 days to 2.0 days. And the total tonnage moved per day has improved by almost 12 percent, from 5,312 tons to 5,946 tons per day. These results clearly suggest the effectiveness of the training programs in improving workers’ operational performance. Also, the statistical significance of these improvements was verified by a series of paired t-tests for each of these three measures. The results showed that the improvements observed were highly significant as the t-test value for each measure is much greater than that required for a 0.001 level of significance. In addition, a realist evaluation approach was also used in the program’s evaluation. This approach is increasingly used to understand how different programs work for the targeted populations and to assess the contextual relevance of the outcomes. Realist evaluation seeks to ascertain not only whether a program produced the observed outcomes but also how, why, and under what circumstances the program achieved its results. By providing this useful information, realist evaluation has a significant role to play in program evaluation studies. The realist evaluation helps to verify the findings produced from the outcome measurement perspective.
4.4 Comparison with previous studies
The training programs which have been evaluated in previous studies include practice-based drills for fire safety, video-based assessments for first aid requisites, and the use of audible, visual, and olfactory senses in gas detection. The research concludes that the effectiveness of the training method will largely depend on what is being trained. These types of trainings and the evaluation methods used are focusing on compliance with specific governing regulations and help to promote best practices. By understanding the types of training programs that workers have gone through and the workers’ susceptibility to different potential hazards at the port, the trainers and the trainees alike will be able to develop and deliver comprehensive and effective training solutions.
In another study, I found that the researchers used virtual reality as a training aid to conduct hazard awareness and assessment. The trainees have been placed in a virtual dock environment and asked to identify safety issues. At the end of the assessment, every trainee received an individual score by considering the number and type of hazards identified. The study said that the virtual reality method allows workers to practice in a supervised environment. It immerses the trainees in a different world and creates a novel experience. The researchers concluded that this method helps to improve the retention of safety awareness and knowledge of the work.
During this study, we have found that some of the previous studies which were focusing on the training programs for port workers have been conducted with different approaches on evaluating the training programs. This study has come up with a very unique and modern training program. In one of the studies, the researcher mentioned that they have used a movie-based training program to enhance the occupational health and safety of the employees. The study also highlighted that such kind of training program was so successful because it captivates the workers’ attention. The trainees were carefully looking for the hazards and they had been trained to identify the early signs of work-related injury. The study found that utilizing the movie-based training program not only improved the work practices, such as better use of safety gear, but also significantly reduced injuries and avoided workers’ compensation costs. In addition, the training program helps the employees to boost morale and improve productivity.
4.5 Identification of areas for improvement
The research findings are very useful in matching the workers’ profile and expectation as measured from the workers’ feedback. For example, it was discovered that there is low or marginal improvement in the workers’ knowledge level if the workers’ education level was relatively high as compared to a situation whereby a worker with a low level of education is exposed to the same kind of training. Also, it was discovered that the length of service has a great influence on the success of various training programmes. For example, those who have served for less than 2 years accounted for the highest number of workers who record an increase in knowledge level from the general safety and health training. Such findings are very important in analysing the profile of workers and developing a tailor-made training programme that will address specific needs in relation to health and safety at the working place. Such a finding confirms that it is never enough to frame training programmes just to comply with the existing health and safety regulation. Instead, there should be a laid down training need analysis procedure which will focus on identifying the training needs that will be beneficial to both the workers and the organisation.
Some criticisms were leveled on the period of training especially on the forklift training where it was observed that the time allotted was too short. Some operators felt that the training should have been extended by an extra day so that they will have more time to practically inculcate the skills learnt from the training sessions. The observation made by the workers on the limitation of training hours allowed is a serious point of concern which should be looked into by the management and the relevant authorities. For example, Regulation 4 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, requires that every employer shall ensure that all workers who use work equipment receive adequate training for the purposes of health and safety. However, the regulation does not stipulate what constitutes adequate training and it is probable that in an attempt to many workers, short term training courses are organised with a view of satisfying the regulatory requirement.
From the feedback of the focus groups, the workers are willing to attend trainings provided the management ensures that they are programmed at a time during working days when the port is relatively less busy. Also, they do not mind such trainings to be scheduled in successive days during the week. This could account for the poor rating of various trainings that were undertaken on the evaluation of the adequacy of the training time allotted.
Upon completion of the analysis, it was found that there was a substantial increase in the level of knowledge from workers who participated in the technical skills and equipment operations training. However, there was only a marginal improvement in knowledge demonstrated by those who undertook general safety and health training. In addition, the evaluation received from the focus groups suggested that workers do appreciate the opportunity given to them to undertake training programmes but there is a need for emphasizing more on training that will lead to an increase in job safety and security.
5. Conclusion
The findings of this research provide evidence that training programs for Nigerian port workers have a positive impact on safety and operational performance. There is a statistically significant difference in safety and operational performance outcomes between trained and untrained port workers. That is, port workers who have undergone various forms of training through the Nigerian Port Authority and other stakeholders in the industry perform better in terms of safety and operational outcomes than those workers who have not undergone any form of training. This supports the idea that investing in training programs for port workers produces good returns in the form of improved safety and operational outcomes. I am therefore confident that the formulation of more rigorous, industry-specific training programs by the Nigerian Port Authority and other stakeholders will further help in improving safety and operational outcomes. This can be strengthened through regular evaluation exercises to identify and rectify any deficiencies in the training programs. Such evaluation exercises should not only be restricted to outcome evaluations but should also include examinations of the training program per se from its design stage to its execution stage so that opportunities for improvement can be identified at different stages of the training program. Also, the human and material resources deployed for the training can be optimized through such continuous evaluation of the training program, including cost-benefit evaluations. Given the multifaceted nature of modern ports and the increasing demands on port workers to deliver in terms of both safety and operational efficiency, I am of the opinion that the implementation of continuous, methodical and comprehensive training programs for all cadres of port workers will significantly help in achieving the dual objectives of safety and operational efficiency. By our findings, both the management of the Nigerian Port Authority and other stakeholders in the industry have the evidential support to ensure the implementation of sustainable training programs for all categories of port workers – the conviction and understanding of the importance of such training programs will now be strengthened. I am therefore recommending that the management of the Nigerian Port Authority and other stakeholders in the industry should pay more attention to the continuous professional development of their workers through the implementation of sustainable training programs. Also, the relevance and the effectiveness of the training programs for port workers should be given more emphasis in the sense that such training programs should be designed and implemented in such a way that they meet the desired objectives of improving safety and operational standards. Last, the training programs should be regularly evaluated so that deficiencies – whether in the design or execution of the program – can be identified and acted upon.
5.1 Summary of findings
Different training programs were evaluated, with new programs showing the tendency to be better evaluated than older ones. Training programs contribute significantly to safety and operational performance. The new program is indeed better in the “quality of operational performance” and “overall safety performance,” which are the two major areas of consideration. Supervisors and junior workers benefit much more from the new programs compared to their seniors. However, it should be noted that, as time progresses, even the formerly new programs will become extinct and so, there should be provisions and encouragement for continuous training. From an average performance rating perspective, the difference between safety and operational performance outcomes of the “older program” and the “new program” is not statistically significant. This brings a fresh perspective into the literature, considering that there are numerous studies that highlight the need for new training programs; but common sense suggests that not all new programs are better. It would also be inappropriate to conclude that older programs are better than new ones, as the studied variables or determinants of success do vary. From another point of view of comparing and finally identifying which category of workers benefits most from what kind of training, the research can now be further developed to look into what are the factors which contribute to good safety and operational performance, and aligning the progression and expectation of different sizes of workers. The findings suggest that a stronger focus, both in practice and research, should be placed on workers’ behavior. Such behavior-focused training could help to shape a much desired safety culture in not only the port industry, but also many other industries. The qualitative data further shows the effectiveness of the training by illustrating how and what workers perceive the benefits of training on safety and operational performance. Young workers use more modern technology, are more innovative in terms of problem solving and cope better with work pressure. The only limitation could be that, since this study is a comparison between new and old training programs, some workers sampled and interviewed may have already retired because the nature of port worker work is quite intensive and the retirement age can be around 55 for some. In the meantime, surprisingly, the data shows that research on training programs for port workers has been rather scant in the literature. If our perception that port industry is comparatively better than other industries in terms of having structured and well-evaluated training programs is tenable, then perhaps more efforts should be injected to draw people’s attention and perhaps the policy makers’ attention to workers’ safety and operational performance.
5.2 Implications for practice
Based on the results of the evaluation-based research I have conducted into the training programs for improving safety and operational performance in Nigerian ports, there are several key implications for port practice that can be drawn. The first and probably the most important in practice is to develop a “continuous improvement culture and a set of mechanisms to deliver it”. By doing so, not only can the operational performance be significantly improved, but also the safety of the workforce can be maintained at a high level. This is supported by a large number of studies and literature in the area of safety culture and provided. To do this, I have in practice needs to provide data that shows training impact. This means that doing research-based training needs analysis, using the type of person performance that are the focus of training and looking at outputs from training, such as error rates, processing times, and so on is used. In addition, the managers and senior staff of the port have to develop the ability and willingness to understand and utilize relevant performance data in order to release investment in what might be quite new training in activities. However, it does not mean in practice we have to let ourselves in to all the available information and processes of determining training development and delivery purely to a data-led change. If we reviewed the workforce’s needs and the ability to adopt fully in practice is developed, there will be much greater opportunity for us to tailor training and cite it towards the specific needs. So, making the first two points, we will be able in practice to deliver a program of continual improvement that will have a tangible benefit to the health, well-being, and workflow of the entire workforce and make the corporate objective of consistently high safety standards a realized idiom.
5.3 Recommendations for future research
Another area for potential research is the sustained impact of training programs over time. This could be explored through longitudinal research, which could involve tracking a cohort of port workers who have received training over a number of years. This could provide valuable insight into the duration of impact of training interventions as it could be possible to track workers’ and firms’ safety and operational performance measures over several years following training. This would also help with the evaluation of the cost-effectiveness of training programs and enable researchers to identify whether more regular, periodic training may be more effective than one-off interventions. Finally, there is also potential to further examine differences in the impacts of training between different groups of workers. While it has been possible in this research to control for some of the key characteristics of workers, for example compared to managers and workers in other roles, a further study could specifically examine potential differences in the impacts of training for these different groups. This would provide valuable evidence to port management teams about which types of training interventions are likely to be most effective for their workers, based on their particular roles and existing skillsets. Furthermore, such studies could then be used to build up a body of evidence upon which to draft more sector specific, tailored training programs for different groups of workers, moving away from the current ‘one-size-fits-all’ model that is currently employed in many cases. It is hoped that such changes to the current approach to the development, implementation and evaluation of training programs for port workers can bolster the safety and operational performance measures in such locations even further than today.

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