Tuesday, December 9, 2014


IMO mandatory container weighing rule to take effect in 2016

The International Maritime Organization last week agreed to an amended rule requiring container weights to be verified before boxes are loaded, cementing the rule’s implementation in July 2016.
Under the revised rule, the weight of the container must be verified either by weighting the unit or weighing all the cargo it contains via a method approved by each respective country. Container lines, port labor and terminal operators have pointed to recent accidents, including the breaking up of the the MSC Napoli on the southern U.K. coast in January 2007, as proof of the need for mandatory container weighing. The United States has required mandatory container weighing on export containers for years as a workplace safety issue. The rule came about due in part to a rare alliance among ports, carriers and longshore labor.
“The implications of this modest change are reverberating through the international transport community, emphasising as it does shippers’ responsibility to declare gross mass accurately and clarifying the means by which this can be done,” the TT Club, a global transportation insurance provider, said in a statement.
But governments need to create a uniform enforcement process to make sure containers are weighed in either of the two accepted ways, the TT Club added. Container lines, terminal operators and other involved in the handling of cargo also need to make sure their operations comply with the new rule.
Asian and European shipper groups have historically rejected efforts to implement mandatory container weighing, arguing that such a requirement would add extra costs and require expensive infrastructure to weigh the boxes. Proponents of mandatory weighting counter that critics have inflated the extra costs and point to how the longstanding U.S. rule has improved safety without reducing supply chain efficiency. The IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee in May approved changes to the rule in May, but the action last week at the Convention for Safety of Life at Sea formally set the rule to take effect.