Calls have been made for the certification of cargo packagers, especially in developing world countries, by delegates at a European Shipping week event. Currently, the proper packaging of containers relies on honesty, said the delegates.
Among the speakers at the conference was IMO secretary-general Kitack Lim who said that the issue was an important one, having previously worked for the Busan Port Authority and experienced these concerns first-hand.
He said that a number of high profile accidents over the years have shown that just one container that is overloaded can lead to loss or damage of cargo and even lead to the injury or death of crew handling it.
One of the problems is that there is no traceability of when the errors were made, the delegates concluded. German Hapag Lloyd has started an investigation into traceability working together with IT expert IBM. “We have to call back thousands of shipments due to bad packaging,” said Ken Rohlmann, working for Hapag Lloyd’s Dangerous Goods department. He added that a lot of packers do not know that they are agreeing to a legal document when signing for the packing of a container. Sometimes these notes are even signed by secretaries who didn’t pack the container. The industry has called for establishing a packer certificate to address these problems.
The IMO already took a step in this direction by holding workshops for packers in developing world countries, where a lot of containers with issues come from. A team is currently staying in Africa for a month to teach port workers how to properly pack and secure a container before loading. The workshops started in Kenya at the beginning of March.
Supported image: Flickr CC/Darren Moloney