Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Handling Containerised Freight Remains a Dangerous Business

Steps Introduced for a Safer Future for Those Required to Work Amongst the Boxes
Shipping News Feature

WORLDWIDE – Over the course of the six decades since the first introduction of containerisation the role of the traditional docker has largely disappeared. There are still however aspects of loading or offloading containerised freight from ever larger vessels that still present a very clear danger to those charged with being present quayside or aboard box vessels to perform essential tasks. In an article this month the TT Club has again illustrated perfectly the problems associated with twistlocks and other securing devices, handling containers in general, and indicated some possible solutions.

The crux of the problem is that anyone working in the areas where boxes are moved will always be at risk, with straddle carriers and other vehicles travelling at some speed to optimise loading and unloading. Meanwhile the physical securing or un-securing of the containers themselves often requires the releasing of the pull cord on semi-automatic twistlocks (SATLs) using a long pole to reach the item in question. This can involve a worker standing in proximity to a suspended container, or risking injury as a container ‘springs free’ hardly a recommended practice.

Now the TT Club agrees with the lobbying of the International Cargo Handling Coordination Association (ICHCA) which has been pressurising the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to improve the safety measures for those still having to work aboard ships. Both crew members and longshoremen have been killed in recent years in accidents involving the movement of containers.

The ICHCA has played its part in pushing the IMO to introduce new regulations covering such things as minimum walkway clearances, improved lashing bridge dimensions, better fencing, securing on opening hatches, proper platforms to work from, bins for lashing rods and safe access plans for the ship. These have been encapsulated in Annex IV of the Code of Safe Practice for Cargo Stowage and Securing (CSS Code) and an IMO Circular (MSC.1/Circ.1352 Rev.1) actually brings all this into force with effect from 1 January 2015 but the fear is that only newbuilds will be able to include all the relevant regulations whilst older ships will be unable to adapt as the new rules require.