SOLAS – A GUIDE TO CONTAINER WEIGHING REGULATIONS
Forthcoming changes to the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) treaty, new regulations will dictate that all containers have a verified weight certificate before loading on to a ship. The new law which will come into force on the 1st July 2016 is an attempt to reduce the number of accidents at sea caused by wrongly declared shipping container weights.
What is SOLAS?
SOLAS in itself is not new, as the first ever version of the treaty was set after the sinking of the Titanic in 1914.
SOLAS is an international maritime safety treaty which is applied by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and is designed to ensure that all ships comply with set minimum safety standards in construction, equipment and operation.
Don’t shippers already have to declare container weights?
Although shippers are required to declare container weights on the bill of lading, as many as one-third of the 130 million containers transported each year are believed to be overweight. It is clear that many weights are wrongly declared and that this misdeclaration of weights has been responsible for many disasters.
When the MSC Napoli met its end off the coast of Cornwall (UK) in 2007, it was discovered that 20% of the containers on board were found to be at least 3 tonnes different from the weight declared on the manifest – with some as much as 20 tonnes heavier.
The new regulations which will be applied on the 1st July 2016 will state that all weights are properly verified using an approved method on approved and accurate weighing equipment. If the gross mass of containers is not verified by the shipper, or not stated in the shipping documents, the terminal operator must not proceed with container loading.
Container weight verification options
Verification of container weights can be achieved in two ways:
- Weighing the packed container using calibrated and certified equipment.
- Weighing all the packages and cargo items, including packing materials and the tare weight of the container; then adding all the weights together to provide a verified total weight.
**Estimating weights is not permitted under the new SOLAS revisions.
Who does this new law affect?
The new regulations which require accurate verification of the weight of containers before loading will apply globally. The shipper (or by arrangement of the shipper, a third party) has a responsibility to verify the gross mass of the container.
The new SOLAS revisions have an effect throughout the supply chain, and demand that all shippers, freight forwarders, vessel operators, and terminal operators will all be required to establish policies and procedures that ensure the implementation of this regulatory change.
Who is classed as ‘the shipper’?
The individual whose name appears on the bill of lading, or the transport document will be treated as the actual shipper and they will be legally responsible for the declaration of the verified gross mass of the loaded container. Any company that exports goods by ship could be classed as the ‘shipper’, regardless of whether they use a third party to conduct the actual movement of the stipulated goods.
For example, if you are an exporter, you may instruct a forwarding agent to pack and weigh the goods, and forward the container to the terminal. The forwarder is acting purely on the instructions of the shipper to undertake that work on his behalf, so the exporter is responsible for verifying the gross mass weight. So the exporter, if in the position of the shipper, has the responsibility for providing the gross mass weight.
What type of weighing equipment can be used?
All weighing equipment used to provide a verified weight must be calibrated and certified. Weighing equipment means a scale, weighbridge, lifting equipment or any other device which is capable of determining the actual gross mass of a packed container or any other material contained within, including packages and cargo items, pallets, dunnage and other packing and securing material.
Different types of weighing equipment could be used depending upon which methods are chosen to verify the container weight therefore it is important that you speak to Precia Molen to get an understanding of which weighing methods would be most suitable for your business whilst adhering to the new SOLAS regulations.
How can Precia Molen help you…
As a world class leader in weighing technology we have the solution to these problems. Dependable long-lasting equipment suitable for operating in the most arduous industrial environments:
• Automatic weighing
Further information/Useful Links:
Precia Molen: offer a complete solution for SOLAS from our world class weighing portfolio.
International Maritime Organization: The IMO is the United Nations specialized agency with
responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention ofmarine pollution by
International Cargo Handling Coordination Association:
ICHCA is an independent, not-for-profit organisation dedicated to improving the safety,
security, sustainability, productivity and efficiency of cargo handling.
World Shipping Council: Industry trade group representing the international liner shipping
CTU Code: a non-mandatory global code of practice for the handling and packing of shipping
containers for transportation by sea and land. (Joint publication of the International Maritime
Organization (IMO), the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe.)