IMO moves to make container weighing mandatory

23 Sep 2013

On 20th September, the IMO backed a compromise proposal for verifying the weight of containers before they are loaded on board ships. The amendment to existing regulation that was adopted will effectively make it mandatory for containers to be weighed so as to lessen the risk that unweighed and misdeclared containers pose to dockers, seafarers, truck drivers, the general public and the environment.
The IMO Dangerous Goods, Solid Cargo and Containers sub-committee approved the compromise proposals by shippers and a number of governments. The central feature of the amendment states that all containers must either be weighed to confirm that the weight as declared by the shipper – already a Solas requirement – is the actual weight, or use a second method of “calculated” verification, whereby shippers can weigh all packages and cargo items including pallets, dunnage and the tare of the container.
The amendment was a point of contention with labour representatives, who disagreed with the introduction of a second method and advocated that only by weighing each container would the system to be put in place be effective. The European Shippers’ Council also had its reservations with regard to the effectiveness of the envisaged system as it would not take into account some dangers of working with containers such as stacking and packaging.
However a compromise had to be found due to the fact that the weighing of each container is not possible in some countries, which made it in turn necessary to provide for an alternative solution according to which, as long as all the constituent parts of the container and the container itself are accurately weighed, the overall weight of the container can be deduced.
ECSA welcomes the amendments and looks forward to the next steps in the IMO’s legislative process. The draft guidelines will now be forwarded to the IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee for approval in May 2014. If successful, final adoption is expected in November 2014. The new system will not come into force before May 2016.