Maritime safety – two steps forward, but much still to be done, 28 November 2014
Last week saw the International Maritime Organization's Maritime
Safety Committee (IMO MSC) finalise work on two measures that are
significant for standards of safety in the unit load industry, be
it maritime or land-based. International transport insurance
provider, TT Club however, believes that while the IMO's recent
actions are significant, they are but two stakes that begin to mark
out the ground for what needs to done in developing safety
throughout the supply chain.
The adoption by the IMO of the amendment to SOLAS (the Convention
for Safety of Life at Sea) concerning verification of gross mass
for containers is welcomed. Such verification will become mandatory
in July 2016. The implications of this modest change are
reverberating through the international transport community,
emphasising as it does shippers' responsibility to declare gross
mass accurately and clarifying the means by which this can be
Much work remains to be done by the relevant governmental
authorities worldwide to deliver uniform enforcement. Yet prior to
this, consistency of both ways and means of carrying out either of
the two methods of weight verification outlined in the amendment
must be developed throughout the supply chain and across the globe.
Perhaps even more importantly, those contracting to carry or handle
container cargo need urgently to identify how each will develop
compliance. The IMO's move has implications for all parties
involved in unit load transportation.
The second welcome 'stake' is the approval, with immediate global
effect as a non-mandatory Code of Practice, of the CTU Code and its
related 'Informative Material'. While only some jurisdictions may
enshrine the code in national legislation, the entire freight
industry must recognise that this detailed guidance for the safe
packing of unit loads may now be used in litigation to demonstrate
good practice. The TT Club wishes to stress forcefully that all
parties need to develop ways to implement and encourage compliance
with the CTU Code.*
TT Club's Risk Management Director, Peregrine Storrs-Fox has for
some time been drawing the industry's attention to the
consequences, including bodily injuries, of inappropriate load
distribution and badly secured cargo within CTUs (Cargo Transport
Units). He asserts, "Increased levels of training of those employed
by shippers, consolidators, warehouses and depots to pack
containers, road trailers and other transport units is now
TT Club's views are supported by both the International Cargo
Handling Co-ordination Association (ICHCA) and developer of
e-learning training courses for the transport industry, Exis
Technologies. ICHCA will be repeating its successful and
informative CTU Roadshow, first held in Harwich earlier this year,
in Hull in the New Year, the date of which will be confirmed
shortly. Exis Technologies was commissioned by TT Club to develop
the CTUpack e-learning™ course**, which was launched in January
2014. This foundation course provides lessons focusing on the
issues most relevant to the packers of unit loads, including forces
and stresses encountered during transport and how these impinge on
the safe packing and securing cargo in a CTU.
Storrs-Fox advises, "Such training is clearly the number one loss
prevention measure and, if adopted as a core feature of the
operator's culture, can greatly reduce the number of incidents
incurred globally each year throughout the industry."
These two elements begin to mark out new safety parameters and
will undoubtedly, if adequately and consistently implemented, bring
about some improvements through the supply chain. However more
needs to be done particularly in the maritime mode.
TT Club is amongst those in the international shipping community
who are urging attention to be focussed on the findings of the
MARIN 'Lashing@Sea' investigation. While the issues highlighted in
that report of cargo weight are in hand, others relating to ship
planning, lashing, and dynamic ship-board information are extant.
The recent initiative by ICHCA to hold a seminar on 'Container
Lashing and Securing' in Rotterdam (10th December) *** is welcomed
in this regard. The event will explore what the industry as a whole
can do to reduce the risks and inefficiencies associated with
current container lashing and securing practices.
While recognising the complexity of international supply chain
logistics and infrastructure, TT Club urges the relevant entities
at IMO to seize all the issues that give rise to 'unknown variables
… [that] erode or eliminate the safety margins in place,' as
succinctly described by the UK Maritime Accident Investigation
Branch's report on 'MSC Napoli' in 2008.
*The CTU Code can be downloaded from the UNECE website at
CTUpack e-learning™ can be purchased directly from www.ctupack.com.
There are discounts for courses purchased in quantity. Exis
Technologies also sells Hazcheck Systems for the management of
dangerous goods in sea transport www.hazcheck.com and online IMDG
Code training courses www.imdge-learning.com