ICHCA International is the only dedicated non-governmental, independent, non-profit making, worldwide organisation dealing specifically with the handling and movement of cargo.
According to Exim News Service, the organisation’s International Safety Panel recently held its 59th meeting at the headquarters of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) here and a major part of the meeting was dedicated to the twin problems faced by container handlers and container carriers arising from lack of correct information being given by the originators of the cargo. This involves both weight and contents.
At present, there is considerable concern regarding the mis-declaration of container weights and the panel emphasised that the basic obligation to provide the correct information rested with the shipper or consolidator. Although the scale of the problem was not accurately known, a report presented pertaining to a specific vessel clearly indicated that, if there were sufficient ‘under-declarations’ on the deck, the stability and even safety of the ship could be affected and that the vessel would be carrying a considerable number of such ‘under-declarations’.
Accordingly, the panel considered that shippers must be made aware of their obligations and that this was best done by the shipping company when the booking for the voyage was taken.
Secondly, terminals and shipping companies should together decide whether there was a need to check the weight of containers and, if so, how that might be done. It was considered that in some instances, a weighbridge certificate could be provided with the goods as they come to the terminal, while in other circumstances a weight check on the terminal via a terminal weighbridge or terminal equipment using sensing devices might be possible. The panel was very clear that this problem was best tackled by the marine supply chain itself.
The other aspect was concerned with dangerous goods and the panel acknowledged that with the 34th amendment of the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code (IMDG Code) becoming mandatory from January 1, the provision relating to the training of shore-side workers was also mandatory and it reaffirmed the strategy that ICHCA International had previously proposed to its members. As a first step, this involved informing the shipper customers of the requirement to train their staff and, later, seeking confirmation that this had or was being done and the panel advised ICHCA International to place emphasis on both these issues in its forthcoming regular bi-monthly electronic newsletters.
The panel was established in 1990 and it consists of 70 experts from around the world on cargo handling, training, insurance, terminal developments, lifting gear, plant and equipment and associated matters. It meets thrice a year.
A core part of its strategy to assist cargo handlers and terminal operation companies is to develop advice documents. It has already published 59 such documents so far, with others being developed.
Other matters considered by the panel at its latest meeting included international initiatives on container handling, crane safety, dangerous goods, solid bulk cargoes, timber deck cargoes and enclosed spaces. It received a presentation on the outcome of the MARIN project on stresses and strains imparted to containerships, deck containers being conveyed and the lashings that keep them in place.
The next two meetings will be in Casablanca on April 28 associated with ICHCA International’s Biennial Conference there, and in Japan in mid-October.