Majority of costly cargo damage unnecessary, TT Club argues

Two thirds of incidents related to cargo damage are caused or exacerbated by poor freight container packing practices, with such supply chain malpractice resulting in multi-million dollar losses and, worse still: loss of life.

These are the findings of international freight transport and logistics insurer, TT Club, which is urging cargo owners to be more aware of safety issues arising from poorly packed containers and misdeclared goods -- indeed, it should form part of their environmental, social and governance policies, the organisations says.

Such incidents are estimated to result in economic losses exceeding £4.4bn a year. Cargo interests, whether retailers, manufacturers, traders, exporters and particularly importers, which rely so heavily on the global supply chains that transit thousands of miles of ocean and land transport need to take responsibility to ensure the risks are mitigated, TT Club says.

“The dangers are not just restricted to chemical cargoes, such as those used in paints, cosmetics, cleaning products, fertilisers, weedkillers and aerosols of all types. A wide variety of consumer goods, as well as components used in the manufacture of industrial products, domestics white goods and automobiles, if incorrectly handled in transit can cause major disasters,” comments Michael Yarwood, managing director, loss prevention at TT Club.

“The list is long and often surprising: BBQ charcoal, battery powered electronic devices, fireworks, hand sanitizer, wool, cotton, vegetable fibres, marble, granite and other building materials, fishmeal, seed cake and many more. Those involved in sourcing, importing, storing, supplying or selling such commodities should ensure their procurement and logistics standards are of the highest level.”

Yarwood says the answers to the problem can be found in the Code of Practice for Packing of Cargo Transport Units, or the CTU Code -- a joint publication of IMO, ILO and UNECE.

“[The CTU Code] provides comprehensive information on all aspects of packing and securing of cargo in freight containers and other transport units across all sea and land transport modes. The Code guides not only those responsible for packing and securing cargo, but also those who receive and unpack the goods. It also addresses the vital issue of correct description and declaration of the goods, including any specific information about the treatment of dangerous goods.”

For those wishing to navigate the Code for guidance on their particular function or commodity, it might appear a little complex, especially for those unfamiliar with the processes. TT Club has therefore, along with its fellow partners in the Cargo Integrity Group, compiled a Quick Guide to the Code. This includes a checklist of actions and responsibilities for those packing cargoes in freight containers specifically. The aim is to make the Code accessible to as many operatives as possible, encouraging them to adhere to the good practices that it specifies.

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