TT Talk - Looking at shipper responsibilities

Peregrine Storrs-Fox, the TT Club's Risk Management Director, comments:

Experts continue to be worried by the twin problems faced by the unitised cargo industry arising from the lack of correct information supplied by shippers and consolidators. The concerns over both weight and contents was discussed by the International Safety Panel of ICHCA International at a recent meeting.

At present, there is considerable concern regarding the mis-declaration of container weights and the Panel emphasised that the basic obligation to provide the correct information rested with the shipper or consolidator. Although the scale of the problem was not accurately known, the UK's Maritime Accident Investigation Branch report on the MSC Napoli clearly indicated that the stability and even safety of the ship could be affected. The incident investigation established that 20% of the deck stow differed by more than three tonnes from the declared weights. Shippers should be made aware of their obligations and that this is best done by the shipping company when the booking for the voyage is taken.

Terminals and shipping companies should together decide whether there is a need to check the weight of containers and, if so, how that might be done. In some instances, a weighbridge certificate could be provided with the goods as they come to the terminal whilst in other circumstances a weight check on the terminal via a terminal weighbridge or terminal equipment using sensing devices might be possible.

The other aspect concerns dangerous goods and the Panel acknowledged that the 34th amendment of the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code (IMDG Code) became mandatory from 1 January 2010, including the provision relating to the training of shore-side workers. Forwarders and carriers should ensure that shipper customers are made aware of the requirement to provide 'function specific' training to their staff and seek confirmation that this has been done. Both ICHCA International and the TT Club have recommended the Exis Technologies e-learning package (http://www.imdge-learning.com) as an effective support in achieving this requirement.