Unions Raise Container Danger Issue

The ITF and its unions will be lobbying politicians, the European Union and other stakeholders on the dangers of badly prepared shipping containers this week, ahead of an ILO (International Labour Organization) forum on the subject in Switzerland on 21 and 22 February.

The ITF is backing and participating in the ILO Global Dialogue Forum on Safety in the Supply Chain in Relation to Packing of Containers, which it recognises as the first truly worldwide examination of the safety problems linked to overloaded, badly packed or inadequately secured freight containers, and those carrying undeclared dangerous goods.

"This is not just a critical safety issue in Europe, it applies to ports and transport chains worldwide. Safety in stevedoring and container safety go both hand in hand with the need for greater national and international regulations," said ITF President Paddy Crumlin.

ITF general secretary David Cockroft explained: “At their best containers are a key link in the world supply chain, at their worst they are a danger to the lives of workers and the public. Their use across transport sectors – lorry, port, rail, ship  – makes this of particular relevance to the ITF and its transport worker members. We’re therefore delighted to see the ILO recognising the need for debate.”

“So far, best practice and self regulation have failed to stop the worst kind of incidents, and we’re therefore recommending that international mandatory instruments be developed that guarantee that those handling and moving containers are informed of their weight, state of packing, stowage and securing, as well as their centre of gravity and whether or not any fumigants or dangerous substances are present.”

The ILO states that: “Many accidents in the transport sector are attributed to poor practices in relation to packing of containers, including the overloading of containers. This has caused major concern particularly because the victims can be the general public, transport workers, or their employers, who have no control over the packing of containers.

“The purpose of the Forum is to reach a common understanding by all stakeholders of the underlining issues pertinent to the packing of containers and a better understanding of the reasons that lead to the application of poor practices in packing of containers that result in industrial accidents as well as to reach consensus on a common approach throughout the supply chain for the correct application and enforcement of the appropriate standards for packing containers.”