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‘Cargo Safety Program’ to spearhead dangerous goods declaration 

‘Cargo Safety Program’ to spearhead dangerous goods declaration
‘Cargo Safety Program’ to spearhead dangerous goods declaration

“Despite industry and government efforts, dangerous cargo that has not been declared, or that has been incorrectly declared or labeled, continues to cause fires and explosions, hurting and killing vessel crew and transportation staff.” This is a statement made by the World Shipping Council (WSC) recently as the organization looks to improve cargo safety standards for seafarers on board vessels. 

The World Shipping Council represents the international liner shipping industry. Members include shipping companies like Maersk, Safmarine, and Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC). 

The importance of declaring goods correctly

Packing cargo on board a ship is more than just placing the items in boxes and then into the container. Shipping lines across the globe need to adhere to strict guidelines – for example, hazardous cargo needs to be packaged and transported in a certain way. A shipping line will look at a company’s packing and request specifications of goods for safety reasons. A shipper can’t just place hazardous material onto a vessel with the hope that nothing will leak, catch fire, or damage other cargo on board. 

Declaring dangerous goods correctly is equally important. Imagine you work for a shipping company, and you have just shipped a consignment to a port for one of your top customers. Another shipping line loading cargo doesn’t declare dangerous goods correctly, and their cargo catches fire. The ship is ablaze, and your cargo is lost. Not only will you have an unhappy customer, but the cost involved in lost cargo could be huge. 

Allianz International reports that fires were one of the main causes of the loss of shipping vessels in 2022, with eight vessels lost and over 200 incidents reported. While the organization says shipping losses have declined 65%, fire incidents remain problematic. “Despite comprehensive and clear international and national regulations on the transport of dangerous goods, these goods continue to be mis-declared or not declared at all, which complicates detection, may result in ship fires and make firefighting much more challenging. In 2022, fire-related incidents at sea surged by over 17% compared to the previous year, according to the World Shipping Council. 

The solution to the problem 

The World Shipping Council is taking the lead in combating the improper declaration of goods with a proposed initiative called the Cargo Safety Program. “A common industry approach to cargo safety will create a safer working environment not only for ship crews but for everyone involved in inland transport or working in ports and terminals, as well as for the communities around us. For shippers, it will make ocean transport more efficient and dependable by stopping dangerous shipments that can disrupt the supply chain,” says President and CEO of WSC. 

The Cargo Safety Program will be a digital solution that will screen ship booking information using a keyword library and risk algorithm. The system will flag high-risk bookings for inspection. This will allow shipping companies to identify and correct dangerous issues.

About the author

Sharl is a qualified journalist. He has over 10 years’ experience in the media industry, including positions as an editor of a magazine and Business Editor of a daily newspaper. Sharl also has experience in logistics specifically operations, where he worked with global food aid organisations distributing food into Africa. Sharl enjoys writing business stories and human interest pieces.

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