Buoyed by the success of an initiative to improve cargo-handling standards by sharing experiences and know-how across the industry, a number of top container lines are working with terminal operators, forwarders and shippers on a fresh safety blitz. The ultimate goal is to minimize the number of injuries or deaths resulting from cargo-related accidents, plus reduces the amount of freight lost or damaged, while also addressing environmental concerns. Behind several projects now being developed is the acceptance that common standards on cargo handling are necessary, and that safety, security, health and environmental matters should not be regarded as competitive issues. “There is an enormous leverage effect from working together,” says Dirk Vande Velde, corporate manager for MSC Chemical Transports and one of the driving forces behind the array of ideas now being pursued. Rather than take action in response to incidents, or wait for P&I advisory circulars to be distributed, those involved in the various projects want to see far more proactive steps taken to prevent accidents in the first place. That means co-operating in areas where there should be no commercial element, while also bringing in scientists and other experts for their professional analytical skills and advice on, for example, the best way to reduce cargo-related pollution. Momentum has been gathering since a group of carriers, led by Mediterranean Shipping Co and Maersk Line, launched the Cargo Incident Notification System last year. Lines are building a database documenting incidents in order to determine any patterns or particular high-risk cargo types. Rapid alerts can be sent out in an emergency, while the network also enables members to exchange information on best practice container handling. From an initial five founders, the Cins organization now has 24 members, according to Mr Vande Velde, the group’s chairman and also director of environmental and social business affairs for MSC. More are expected to join soon. Also working with Cins members are the mutual insurer TT Club, and the International Group of P&I Clubs.
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