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NHVR releases shipping container safety advice

Packing and securing loads a safety issue with risks and responsibilities


Regulatory advice to a range of parties on safe shipping container packing has just been released by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR).

The advice provides guidance on identifying and managing the safety risks of transporting freight in shipping containers by road.

“Unsecured or inappropriately packed freight in shipping containers, pose a significant safety risk to drivers, workers, other road users and the community,” the regulator stated.

“If you consign, pack, load or unload goods, you have the most ability to influence and manage the risks associated with transporting freight in shipping containers.”

The three main risks identified are:

  • Unbalanced loading – Incorrectly positioned loads or loads with a high centre of gravity can affect a heavy vehicle’s stability, steering and braking performance. Loads that are not balanced across and along the container can make the vehicle unstable and increase the rollover risk.
  • Inadequate load restraint – Poorly restrained freight can move and slide within the container when a heavy vehicle brakes and navigates bends and round-a-bouts. The shifting of freight inside the container can cause the vehicle to become unstable and increase the rollover risk.
  • Safety risks for unloaders – There is a risk of death or serious injury when unloading containers where freight has been poorly restrained or has shifted during transit. The freight could fall when the container is opened and strike or crush workers in the immediate vicinity. 

Read about the global container packing safety initiative, here

The national regulator highlights the parties most responsible under Chain of Responsibility aspects of the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) if a badly packed container causes an incident.   

“Because of their activities, importers, exporters, manufacturers, freight forwarders, freight brokers, shipping agents, container terminal operators, stevedores, freight consolidation or deconsolidation providers are considered parties in the CoR. They have a duty to ensure safety by eliminating or minimising public risks under the HVNL,” the advice reads.

“Consignors and consignees have the best opportunity to influence how shipping containers are packed and loaded at the point of origin through contractual and commercial relationships.

NHVR port-of-brisbane-093.jpg

“They must communicate with suppliers, manufacturers, packers and loaders to ensure packing, loading and freight restraint processes are carried out in a way that ensures safety and meets the requirements in the HVNL.

“At a minimum, consignors and consignees – and all other parties in the CoR – should undertake a risk assessment considering the risks of transporting freight in shipping containers and the best controls for mitigating these risks. 

“Executives should be fully aware of, and endorse or approve, the final risk assessment.”

The full advice can be found here.


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