TT Talk - Vertical Tandem Lifting: a clarification

In TT Talk No. 53 we wrote that vertical tandem lifting should only be used for handling empty containers, as the connecting locks were not designed to carry the weight of loaded containers. Andrew Webster, our Director of Loss Prevention, who represented the Club at recent hearings of the United States OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) in Washington DC, points out this is not completely correct as the International Standards Organization has amended its standard on the handling and securing of freight containers. The standard now permits the handling and securing of freight containers vertically linked together provided that:

1. no more than three boxes are lifted together


2. the total gross mass (weight) does not exceed 20,000 kg


3. the units are all connected by inter-box connectors (now known as liftlocks) which comply with ILO convention 152.

The International Safety Panel of ICHCA International Ltd has developed guidelines on how VTL operations may be carried out safely. These include a proviso that no VTL operations may take place without the agreement of the terminal operator, his employees, the shipping company and the relevant enforcement agency.

The recent hearings in Washington were OSHA's proposals for a new law on VTL operations. The legislation would be based largely on the ISO standard and the ISP guidelines. In response to this initiative and in the knowledge that VTL operations are currently being undertaken in some parts of the world, the Club amended its rules on 1 July 2004. The new rule requires members to comply with industry and national standards when carrying out vertical tandem lifts.

It is against this background that the TT Club would like to hear from members about their current use of VTL. Please respond to Andrew Webster by email to

We apologise for any confusion that may inadvertently have been caused.

Staff Author

TT Club