Maximising safety in container carriers

Safety measures designed at saving lives and preventing personal injury as well as preventing destruction to goods is behind the presentation by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) of the new regulations to verify the gross mass of a full container. These provisions entered into force on 1 July 2016 alongside the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, from 1974, better known as the SOLAS Convention, supplementing the previous provisions in place related to the declaration of the gross mass of the cargo and containers.

And it is indeed essential to maximise safety controls of the cargo in a container carrier due to the fact that ships that can hold up to 19,224 TEUs, where just one slip-up can prove to be fatal, both for the integrity of those carrying out handling operations as well as loss or deterioration of the goods contained therein. Hence the importance of knowing exactly what the gross mass of a full container is prior to shipment.

The Solas Convention has therefore established two methods to check this mass. The first involves weighing the full container using calibrated and certified equipment, while in the second, all the cargo items and packages are weighed, including the mass of the pallets, stowage planks, and any other secural material that is loaded into the container. The mass of the tare weight of the container is added to the sum of each mass, using a certified method approved by the competent authority of the Member State where the container is packed up.

What is the purpose of doing this? These requirements will prevent the collapse of the batteries, the fall of containers overboard or even personal injuries that may result in the loss of human life, due to the fact that these measures are aimed at the safe navigation of ships in addition to the packing, handling and transportation under the best conditions.

The consignor is responsible for the verified gross mass of each full container indicated in the shipping document. This document, which must be signed by the consignor or his representative, will have to be submitted to the captain or his representative and the representative of the terminal sufficiently in advance to allow time for the preparation of the stowage plan. Failure to follow this requirement will mean that the container may not be loaded onto ships where the regulation applies.

If the gross mass of a container is not checked

The provisions of this regulation also provide solutions in the case of a container arriving at the terminal without its gross mass having been checked, and that has to be transported, in any case. The ship captain or his representative, and the representative of the terminal will therefore be able to obtain the verified gross mass of the full container on behalf of the consignor.

How? The full container may be weighed in the terminal or at another site. In fact, the convenience of and the way to proceed should be agreed between the commercial parties, including the sharing of costs that may result from these actions.

Other safety measures

The provisions listed above are not the only ones that have been drawn up by the International Maritime Organization to prevent the loss of containers or incidents related to containers. There is also an IMO/ILO/UN-ECE United Nations code of practice, a global, non-binding code of practice on the handling and packing of the units of transport by land and by sea.

The IMO has also adopted the Code of Safe Practice for cargo stowage and secural, with the review of the relevant ISO standards (ISO 1161: Series 1 Containers- Corner fittings – Specifications; and ISO 3874: Series 1 Containers – Handling and securing) by the International Standardisation Organisation (ISO) at the request of the above party, to incorporate the latest advances to container handling and equipment secural- taking into account the latest generation of container carriers with a project capacity of more than 18,000 TEUs and the inclusion of the characteristics of the project and resistance of the automatic rotating latches.

Using a company such as Bilogistik, specialised in comprehensive logistics services, is a must in order to avoid any hitch that may occur with the documentation and to have all the correct paperwork, in addition to being aware of all the international regulations and recommendations. Each customer can therefore avail of the supervision of port operations, consignment of ships and maritime chartering, as well as customs management and administrative procedures of the goods for the transport and storage of freight.

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