Journal indépendant d'économie et de politique des transports
CENTRO INTERNAZIONALE STUDI CONTAINERS
ANNO XXXVIII - Numero SETTEMBRE 2020
THE SAFETY OF CARGO
CARGO SAFELY SECURED? CHECK
An international push continues for the adoption of safe
cargo-packing practices to avoid the loss of billions of dollars
worth of goods and equipment annually in preventable accidents.
Five international freight transport and cargo-handling
organizations collaborated on the newly released CTU Code: A Quick
Guide, which condenses their advice on the packing of all types of
cargo into 13 pages, and the Container Packing Checklist, which
itemizes requirements for the packing of multimodal freight
containers in a yes-or-no format.
The five groups - the Container Owners Association (COA), Global
Shippers Forum (GSF), International Cargo Handling Coordination
Association (ICHCA), TT Club and World Shipping Council (WSC) - said
in a media briefing Thursday that the guide is designed to improve
awareness and understanding of good practices in the packing of
goods in cargo transport units (CTUs).
They said many cases of ship fires and container stack failures,
vehicle rollovers and train derailments can be traced to poor
packing practices. Peregrine Storrs-Fox, the TT Club's risk
management director, said in April that the organization has
estimated the international maritime industry alone incurs losses of
about $6 billion each year because of incorrectly packed or
"That includes damage to the cargo and delays,
environmental cleanup, injuries and ship damage. The point is that
$6 billion is totally unnecessary. If people followed things
correctly, then that $6 billion would be saved to the entire
industry," he said then.
Storrs-Fox repeated that figure Thursday and said the TT Club,
which provides insurance and related risk-management services to the
international transportation and logistics industry, believes these
accidents can be prevented. "The vast majority are avoidable by
adopting established good practices," he said.
The CTU Code was issued in 2014. Applying to packing and
transport operations throughout the supply chain, the code was
developed by the International Maritime Organization, International
Labor Organization and United Nations Economic Commission for
In the years since the code was adopted, "we haven't
actually seen a significant improvement in the incident statistics.
Certainly wherever we go, we see that a lot of people are not aware
of the CTU Code at all," Storrs-Fox said in April while
discussing the launch of a cargo integrity campaign.
This week's release of the guide and checklist are the latest
steps taken as part of that campaign.
Richard Brough, the head of the ICHCA and moderator of
Thursday's web event, said it was clear from the number of cargo
loss incidents that something more had to be done to attain adoption
of the safety practices.
Storrs-Fox agreed, saying the TT Club had found "woeful
ignorance" of the CTU Code.
The Quick Guide covers the end-to-end packing process and
includes steps on securing cargo and the handling of dangerous
Storrs-Fox was asked if adherence to the CTU Code could have
prevented the massive explosion at the Port of Beirut on Aug. 4.
"All of these sorts of events take a very long time to
understand precisely what's happening," he said. "That's
certainly the case with ship fires in recent years. They all take a
long time to investigate. ... But following each of those sorts of
events, there should be added awareness and energy put to developing
and following good practice."
GSF Secretary General James Hookham called the checklist "a
clear process map" for the packing of containers.
"There is a yes-or-no format and, upon successful
completion, allows dispatch of a container," he said.
Currently, the checklist is available as a PDF, but a mobile app
is being considered, Hookham said.
The CTU Code itself is available in all six official U.N.
languages - English, French, Spanish, Russian, Chinese and Arabic -
and work is underway to produce the printable guide and checklist in
multiple languages as well.
One set of guidelines is important regardless of the language,
"The organizations found common ground," he said.
"We've got a job to do and working at it together I think is
better than we would have done working at it individually."
WSC Senior VP Lars Kjaer stressed that the work continues.
"On behalf of the World Shipping Council, I can assure ...
that this initiative that we are launching today is not the
conclusion of the concern that the CEOs of my member companies have
regarding container safety," Kjaer said. "It is but one
initiative among a plethora of initiatives that ... we have been
asked by our principals to become involved in.""
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