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Global shipping container packing safety effort under way

Code of practice backs awareness wherever cargo transport units are used


With dangerously packed shipping containers still a scourge on Australian roads, as elsewhere and in other transport modes, much hope is invested in a new global safety effort.

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 (CTUs).

The Container Owners Association, the Global Shippers Forum, the International Cargo Handling Co-ordination Association (ICHCA) International, international transport and logistics insurer the TT Club and the World Shipping Council are co-operating on a range of activities to further the adoption and implementation of crucial safety practices throughout the global supply chain.

They have just launched CTU Code – a quick guide, an introduction the new Code of Practice for Packing of Cargo Transport Units, and a checklist of actions and responsibilities for the guidance of those undertaking the packing of cargoes in freight containers specifically.

The issue is salient to safety concerns amongst container users and transporters, with Freight & Trade Alliance (FTA), the Australian Peak Shippers Association (APSA) and Container Transport Alliance of Australia (CTAA) having won 2019-20 Heavy Vehicle Safety Initiative (HVSI) funding a year ago for their safe container handling initiative.

More news on that initiative is expected this week.

Read how an Australian container safety won HVSI funding, here

“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 proponents point out.

“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 (CIG) and have identified the following four areas of activity to raise the awareness and improve understanding of safe cargo packing practices:

promoting awareness and adoption of the CTU Code, of which the guidance material published today is an example.

seeking changes in regulatory requirements to improve their clarity, application, implementation and enforcement, including to the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code

monitoring of CTU packing performance through support for strengthened cargo screening processes and more effective container inspection regimes

working with other industry and governmental stakeholders in promoting awareness and better understanding of safe cargo packing and handling practices.

The code is jointly published by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).

Copies from the former and the latter can be found here and here.




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