Book it right and pack it tight

Guidance on packing dangerous goods for carriage by sea - IMDG code amendment 40-20

As part of our commitment to continued knowledge transfer, the Loss Prevention Department of the UK P&I and TT Club have updated our industry leading "Book it right and pack it tight" publication, to bring it in-line with the most current thinking and regulations.

1 June 2022 marked the date of mandatory enforcement of the latest version of the IMDG Code, Amendment 40-20. As a consequence, UKP&I and TT have again collaborated to update their publication 'Book it right and pack it tight'. This guide provides key insights for all participants in the freight supply chain responsible for preparing unitised consignments for carriage by sea. The guide is intended to provide an overview of the key practical duties under the IMDG Code for each individual and entity, while not seeking to meet the mandatory training requirements.

While the IMDG Code has existed for approaching six decades, and training has been mandatory since 2004, the consequences of poor understanding and practices continue to reverberate through the maritime supply chain. In particular, the frequency of major ship fires shows little sign of abating and the resultant costs to life, assets and the environment are devastating.

The global freight supply chain comprises a large number of diverse participants; the obligations and responsibilities resting on those who enter cargo into this supply chain, in general terms shippers and packers, are substantial. The IMDG Code is mandatory – forming the maritime element of the overall international dangerous goods regime which is applying to all modes of transport. This is supported by other guidance materials, key amongst which is the IMO/ILO/UNECE Code of Practice for Packing of Cargo Transport Units (CTU Code).

The scale of unitised operations globally is such that great reliance has to be placed on the competence and integrity of each individual and entity involved; the system is based upon trust, which has been sorely strained through the incidents incurred aboard ships and in port areas. The multitude of Vessel Sharing Agreements across the Carriers merely underlines the need for a common and practical understanding of the requirements involved in transport of dangerous goods.

Regardless how sophisticated electronic tools become, it is vital that the people involved at each stage of the process have appropriate understanding and expertise in order not just to carry out their immediate function but also to be able to validate what is presented on a screen. Such diligence is necessary to manage the unforgiving laws of physics and chemistry that govern the nature of the goods
carried in ships and stacked in container yards in ports.

This guidance reflects Amendment 40-20 of the IMDG Code. It follows the full range of processes of a dangerous goods consignment being carried by sea.

Dangerous Goods problems at sea start on land, so I urge all involved in the intermodal supply chain – shippers, forwarders, logistics operators, shipping lines – to distribute this publication widely to their own staff, and their counterparties who prepare consignments for mariners to carry.


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Staff Author

TT Club