Improper packing, labeling to blame for string of ship fires, insurer says
- The majority (66%) of cargo damage across freight modes, including container fires, is attributable to poor packing and labeling of dangerous materials, according to logistics insurer TT Club.
- By the company's count, a major ship fire breaks out roughly every 60 days and 2019 has already seen four, leading TT Club to call for a multi-faceted approach to reducing these fires and other risks through a Cargo Integrity Campaign.
- "Our diverse campaign is seeking significant cultural and behavioral change to say the least. Certain elements may require legislative action, enforcement and inspection and there are great challenges in the field of technological development," Peregrine Storrs-Fox, TT Club’s risk management director, said in a statement.
A cluster of ship fires is reinvigorating ocean shipping industry efforts to improve its safety record. The four major fires that broke out this year are just the " tip of a failing safety iceberg," according to TT club.
The real cause of the problem, reports the insurer, is the packing, cargo identification, declaration, documentation and effective data transfer of cargo. Mislabeling harmful, flammable or combustible materials leads to improper handling, which can lead to fires, explosions and loss of life, not to mention cargo. TT Club puts the value of such cargo claims at $500 million per year.
"We are endeavoring to focus all direct and indirect stakeholders on recognising and doing the right thing," Storrs-Fox said in a statement.
Some shipping lines have put in place digital solutions to try and sniff out the estimated 150,000 "volatile containers" put in the supply chain each year. Several carriers participate in the Cargo Incident Notification System (CINS), which helps identify patterns in cargo safety issues and point out problematic commodities. Storrs-Fox said Hapag-Lloyd is developing a profiling algorithm to identify likely cases of misidentified cargo within its booking system.
Still, the insurer insists there is much more to be done. "Above all there is a need for all involved in the supply chain to have a realistic perception of risk and a responsible attitude towards liability," he said.
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