ContainersOperations

Transport groups collaborate to improve container safety

Five international freight transport and cargo handling organisations are collaborating on the production of new guidance on packing standards for freight containers and other cargo transport units. The Container Owners Association, the Global Shippers Forum, the International Cargo Handling Co-ordination Association, the TT Club and the World Shipping Council are co-operating on a range of activities to further the adoption and implementation of safety practices throughout the global supply chain.

As part of this longstanding cooperation, the five organisations have published a quick guide to the United Nations sponsored Code of Practice for Packing of Cargo Transport Units (the CTU Code), together with a checklist of actions and responsibilities for the guidance of those undertaking the packing of cargoes in freight containers specifically.

Dedicated to improving the safety, security and environmental performance throughout the logistics supply chain, one of the aims of this collaboration is to promote awareness and wider use of the IMO/ILO/UNECE Code of Practice for Packing of Cargo Transport Units – the CTU Code.

There have been several widely reported container fires aboard ships, where containerised cargoes may have been the cause of, or contributed to, such fires. The organisations believe that consistent, widespread and diligent adherence to the CTU Code by all parties within global CTU supply chains would significantly reduce these types of incidents, some of which have resulted in fatalities and serious injuries amongst ships’ crews and shore-side staff.

Other occurrences, such as container stack failures, vehicle roll-overs, train derailments, internal cargo collapses and incidents of invasive pest contamination, can also be traced to poor packing practices. The organisations believe that a greater awareness of the CTU Code and the packing practices and techniques it contains will help to reduce such incidents.

To do this the organisations are working together as the Cargo Integrity Group and seeking changes in regulatory requirements to improve their clarity, application, implementation and enforcement, including to the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code.

James Hookham from the Global Shippers Forum commented, “Today is a marker on a journey to raise wider awareness of this critical issue across the globe and adoption of safe practices. Our organisations cannot do this on their own and we are reaching out to other bodies in the supply chain and in governmental agencies to join with us in promoting high standards of the packing of all cargo transport units and understanding the inter-connectedness of differing objectives.”

“Carriers have been advancing their capability to screen cargo at the time of booking in order to combat the curses of error and fraud that cause misdeclarations and unacceptable risk for the industry,” said TT Club’s Peregrine Storrs-Fox. “Such actions can also support and empower industry and government sponsored container inspection programmes that are fundamental to improving good practice and understanding how regulations actually operate.”

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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