When a ship carrying dangerous goods such as explosives and highly flammable chemicals sets sail on the open sea en route to its destination, you might think that the most hazardous part of the journey is yet to come.
However, the most critical stage in this scenario is while the ship is still in port and being loaded with its cargo. The incorrect handling, storage and classification of dangerous goods, which make up around 10% of all the world’s containerised shipments, can have serious consequences.
A 2018 study of 174 incidents showed that fires and explosions on board vessels occurred every 60 days on average – and that cargo not properly declared, including incorrect labelling and packaging of dangerous goods, contributed to 65% of damage insurance claims.
A further study covering records from 1998 to 2008 showed that most releases of packaged or containerised dangerous goods – 97% of US events and 94% UK events – did not follow another primary accident, such as a collision.
Instead, these incidents were linked to faults that occurred during activities such as preparation of goods for transport, packaging, stuffing containers, and loading the ship. The same report highlighted that 15% of all fatalities on board container ships were linked to releases of dangerous goods.
The International Maritime Organization recognised how important it was for the shipping industry to follow guidelines on the transportation of dangerous goods back in 1965 with the launch of the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code.
The code was developed to in order to enhance and harmonize the safe carriage of dangerous goods and to prevent pollution to the environment. It sets out in detail the requirements applicable to each individual substance, material or article and covers activities such as packing, container traffic and stowage, particularly relating to the segregation of incompatible substances.
It became mandatory in 2004 and is regularly reviewed and revised to take account of technical and transportation requirements for the rapidly expanding number of new products that are being shipped across the globe.
Regular training of seafarers in the topic is therefore essential to ensure that personnel remain compliant and informed, and to reduce the risk of incidents.
The Dangerous Goods by Sea eLearning course by Mintra is written in reference to the IMDG Code, along with the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), and the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL). It also draws upon industry best practices.
The course is considered essential for any individuals who are involved in the handling of dangerous goods for transportation by sea and provides learners with a basic understanding of regulations surrounding the shipping of dangerous goods, including the classification of goods and appropriate labelling and packing.
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