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Shipping Industry Groups to Tackle Crucial Safety Issues in Cargo Transport

A tugboat pours water on the container ship Zim Kingston after it caught fire off the coast of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada October 25, 2021. Canadian Coast Guard/Handout via REUTERS.

Shipping Industry Groups to Tackle Crucial Safety Issues in Cargo Transport

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March 22, 2023

Five major organizations involved in global cargo transport have joined forces to create a framework for cooperation that will enhance safety during the movement and handling of goods that have the potential to cause harm to the environment, the workforce, and the cargo itself.

The Cargo Incident Notification System (CINS), Confidential Human Factors Incident Reporting Programme (CHIRP), Container Owners Association (COA), International Cargo Handling Coordination Association (ICHCA), and Ship Message Design Group (SMDG) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to work together in areas of joint interest and share their expertise.

According to John Beckett, Chair of ICHCA, this unique partnership of industry leaders has the potential to coordinate data, research, and best practices across the broad spectrum of international cargo movement. The group’s goal is to create awareness among freight industry operators, regulators, and policymakers about practical and effective measures that can improve safety during cargo transport and handling.

Leveraging their collective resources, the group will seek to publish guidance to help improve safety processes and promote best practices in the international movement of cargo.

“As an example of where immediate attention is required, container ship fires are high on the list,” said Dirk Van de Velde, Deputy Chair of CINS. “The combined knowledge, experience and database resource of the signatories to this MOU, managed in a coordinated manner, have massive potential to leverage change in safety processes. We will be publishing guidance on the treatment of lithium-ion batteries, among other cargoes, in the near future.”

The MOU calls for coordinated efforts on regional and international issues of common concern and engagement with relevant regulatory bodies, including the IMO and other appropriate United Nations agencies, to initiate innovative worldwide surveys and studies that can assist the organizations in furtherance of their members and associates. The group will also share research findings and publications to strengthen information exchange while avoiding duplication of effort by pooling resources.

David Watkins, a representative of CHIRP Maritime, expressed delight in being part of the MOU, adding that CHIRP Maritime would work with its partners to collect information on operational cargo-related accidents and incidents and share the learning with the wider maritime community to promote best practices in the supply chain and reduce the number of cargo incidents on board ships and terminals.

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