Safe cargo packing, handling and transport: The need for better communication and cooperation

The industry coalition committed to promoting the use of the Code of Practice for Packing of Cargo Transport Units (CTU Code)* stresses two of its primary aims: the need for more widespread communication of the Code's existence and greater cooperation from all parties in the supply chain in putting the Code's guidelines into practice in accordance with their roles and responsibilities.

Safety improvements throughout the international supply chain can be made through the proper packing, handling and transport of cargo transport units (CTUs), including containers, according to the four bodies making up the industry coalition, and which are responsible for a broad cross-section of the global CTU freight industry. Speaking at a special session of ICHCA International's 65th anniversary conference in Las Palmas, Spain today a spokesperson from each coalition member - Global Shippers' Forum, ICHCA International, TT Club and World Shipping Council - highlighted the varied challenges the industry faces in achieving such improvements.

Having addressed national government delegates at the IMO last month, impressing on them the shared responsibility to promote the Code's use, the coalition members today turned their attention to cargo handlers and stevedores.

"Terminal operators and stevedores in many locations play a relatively minor role in packing containers and other CTUs. They nevertheless play an important role in identifying eccentrically loaded, overweight, bulging and otherwise dangerously packed units, and in taking appropriate steps to address any safety concerns," said Captain Richard Brough representing the hosts, ICHCA International. "In terms of disseminating this message, we are particularly pleased today to be able to address such a significant group from CARC, the Canarias/Africa Chapter of ICHCA, who are meeting with us this week."

In highlighting the need for stepping up efforts to communicate the Code and its content, Peregrine Storrs-Fox of TT Club commented, "We recently surveyed some 6,000 industry professionals to ascertain their knowledge of the Code. A low level response of 5% completing the questionnaire in itself indicates a lack of awareness. Of those expressing an opinion, just 56% felt the Code is sufficient to address safety issues. Given the comprehensive nature of the Code, this suggests a need for more clarity and explanation of its important safety recommendations. Cooperation from all stakeholders across the global supply chain in order to improve this communication of the Code and, importantly, its uptake is vital."

Exemplifying one aspect of the Code's complexity but also its remarkable comprehensiveness, Lars Kjaer of the WSC examined the issue of pest contamination of containers and their cargoes. "The International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) confirms that the packing of sea containers with cargo is the most likely stage in the sea container supply chain at which pest contamination can occur," emphasised Kjaer. "Use of the Code, supported by targeted guidelines, will assist in efforts to mitigate this problem as all involved in the international container supply chain have a duty to ensure that CTUs and their cargoes are not infested with soil, plants, plant products, insects or other animals."

It is clear that shippers and those acting on their behalf in packing containers and other CTUs around the world are a key group to be engaged in efforts to promote the Code in practice. Chris Welsh, representing the Global Shippers Forum, also meeting in Las Palmas this week, is keen to spread the message. He commented, "Today's meeting brings together in a single venue those who operate cargo handling facilities and the shippers and packers who initiate the movement. It is a key moment to bring our important safety messages to all elements of the supply chain and particularly those responsible for packing and securing cargo in CTUs. We continue to call for cooperation from all such stakeholders to improve the industry's safety record in this crucial regard."

*IMO/ILO/UNECE Code of Practice for Packing of Cargo Transport Units (CTU Code)

Staff Author

TT Club