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International industry coalition seeks global govts’ support to avert truck rollovers, train wrecks, cargo spillages & port fire explosions

A coalition of leading cargo industry organisations representing the full breadth of the global supply chain is maintaining its campaign for safer practices in packing freight containers and other cargo transport units (CTUs) pleads global governments support in a bid to ward off truck rollovers, train derailments, cargo spillages and explosions & fires at ports , says a release on 25th Sept. During a meeting held at the IMO during London International Shipping Week, the group asked delegates of IMO member states for the backing of their governments to communicate the content, to encourage and oversee the use of the IMO/ILO/UNECE1 Code of Practice for Packing of CTU Code within their jurisdictions.

 The four industry bodies, Global Shippers Forum (GSF), ICHCA International, TT Club and World Shipping Council (WSC) participated in the experts group that created the comprehensive guidance for safe and secure packing of CTUs and was thereafter adopted by each of the UN agencies during 2014. As such, the key stakeholders in the intermodal supply chain together with the leading freight industry insurer continue to drive forward the implementation of this important work.

Speaking on behalf of shippers, Chris Welsh, the Secretary General of GSF said, “Our coalition epitomises the depth of industry cooperation that exists in ensuring the safety of operatives across the supply chain and the security of cargo; now there is clearly a greater need for action by national governments to support these industry initiatives. In fact it is critical that governments play a role in effecting the more widespread use of the Code among those loading CTUs on a daily basis.” TT Club’s Risk Management Director, Peregrine Storrs-Fox pointed out the importance of this awareness and enforcement of the Code, “The maritime freight container, in particular, has diversified the responsibility for safe cargo packing away from the historic concentration of expertise at quaysides and docks.

Those packing containers at factories, warehouses and depots situated remotely from the port, or indeed from a railhead or other intermodal hub, are generally unaware of the consequences of a poorly packed steel coil and unsecured drum of hazardous chemicals. As a specialist insurer, TT Club continually sees the sad repercussions of truck rollovers and train derailments, cargo spillages, and explosions and fires at ports or on-board ships.”

Credible statistics are hard to come by, partly due to a lack of engagement by state authorities with IMO’s container inspection standard, but ICHCA International’s Richard Brough made an attempt to estimate the extent of the problem based on UNCTAD trade International Maritime Organization, International Labor Organization and United Nations Economic Commission for Europe statistics and the results of the relatively few inspections made during the last fifteen years. “Extrapolating from the UNCTAD figure of 180 million TEUs traded, via the 24% of inspected containers carrying dangerous goods (DG) that were found to be badly packed and bearing in mind that cargoes declared as DG make up only around 10% of all containers, we can estimate that each year some 25.9 million containers are potentially poorly packed and pose a danger at some point on their journey along the supply chain.” Lars Kjaer, Senior Vice President of WSC drew attention to the vital matter of container pest contamination explaining, “Carriers should ensure that empty containers to be delivered for packing are clean and pest free.

However, the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) has confirmed that pest contamination of containers and their cargoes is most likely to occur at the point of packing. Shippers and packers need to take appropriate steps to prevent pest contamination of containers while in their custody.” All four organisations are in no doubt about the extent of the task in hand to extend the best practices enshrined in the CTU Code to the majority of those involved in packing containers around the world.

A lack of training, language problems, the sheer density of the information contained in the Code, dramatic variations in the types of cargo now being carried in containers and the complexities of international supply chains are among the myriad of challenges facing the industry in achieving widespread adoption. However, this coalition of industry bodies is determined to advance towards their goal and emphasise once more the crucial role that IMO member states should play in supporting their efforts.

The 2014 IMO/ILO/UNECE Code of Practice for Packing of Cargo Transport Units (CTU Code), jointly developed by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), addresses these concerns through a non-mandatory global code of practice for the handling and packing of cargo transport units for transportation by sea and land.

The 2014 CTU Code is an update of the 1997 IMO/ILO/UNECE Guidelines for Packing of Cargo Transport Units and was endorsed by the Inland Transport Committee of the UNECE, at its seventy-sixth session (25 to 27 February 2014), the IMO Maritime Safety Committee, at its ninety-third session (14 to 23 May 2014) and the Governing Body of ILO, at its 322nd session (30 October to 13 November 2014).  The revision process took place from 2011to 2013 under the auspices of a group of experts.

Within the CTU Code, comprehensive information and references on all aspects of loading and securing of cargo in containers and other intermodal transport are provided, taking account of the requirements of all sea and land transport modes.  The CTU Code applies to transport operations throughout the entire intermodal transport chain and provides guidance not only to those responsible for packing and securing cargo, but also to those who receive and unpack such units.  The Code of Practice also addresses issues such as training and the packing of dangerous goods.

The CTU Code is intended to assist the industry, employers’ and workers’ organizations as well as Governments in ensuring the safe stowage of cargo in containers. The CTU Code could also be used as a reference base for national regulations and could become a model for internationally harmonized legislation in this field, should such requirements arise. In conjunction with the CTU Code, the Informative Material related to the CTU Code (MSC.1/Circ.1498) provides practical guidance and background information on the packing of cargo transport units.  The informative material was finalized by the IMO Sub-Committee on Carriage of Cargoes and Containers (CCC) at its first session.



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