The European Shippers’ Council criticized a maritime industry proposal that containers be weighed before loading on ships as “a false remedy for an ill-defined disease.”
Several port, carrier and labor groups and governments this week urged the International Maritime Organization to require port terminal operators and ships to have a verified container weight before a box is stowed aboard ship.
Misdeclaration of container weights has been blamed for numerous accidents aboard ships, in ports and on highways.
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires export containers to be weighed before loading but other nations have no similar requirements. The International Convention for Safety of Life at Sea requires shippers to declare accurate container weights, but the SOLAS requirement does not require the container to be weighed and is widely flouted.
The ESC agreed that “something needs to be done” about container safety standards, but it called misdeclared container weights “a relatively small risk factor” compared with procedures for lashing, ship maintenance and stowage.
“We admit that misdeclaration of weights needs our attention but oppose the idea that it’s the biggest threat to the safety of workers in the supply chain,” the ESC said. “If the sector is truly looking for a safer supply chain, all parties should take their responsibility.”
The maritime industry proposal would require terminal operators and ship operators to share in the responsibility for accurate container weights. The IMO’s Subcommittee on Dangerous Goods, Solid Cargoes and Containers will consider the proposal at its next meeting in September.
The industry proposal was submitted by BIMCO, the International Association of Ports and Harbors, the International Chamber of Shipping, the International Transport Workers Federation, the World Shipping Council and the governments of Denmark, the Netherlands and the United States.