As the IMO’s sub-committee on Carriage of Cargoes and Containers meets in London this week, TT Club is demanding urgent action on container safety.

The major problem is mis-declared dangerous goods, it says, and suggests it leads to a major container fire every 60 days on average.

Risk management director Peregrine Storrs-Fox said: “Achieving integrity across the web of the supply chain is a big ask and we’re in little doubt a comprehensive result will take time to achieve.

“However, many industry bodies are making significant strides, particularly in the areas of dangerous goods identification, declaration and handling, as well as container weighing and packing.

“We are calling on the regulators, in this case the IMO, to assist in taking action to identify appropriate legislative and behavioural change that will improve safety and certainty of outcome.”

Mr Storrs-Fox said more IMO member states needed to provide container inspection reports, stating that “just seven” had done so this year.

He also called for more work to recognise the goods not actually classified as dangerous but which have led, or could lead, to incidents.

TT Club and ICHCA have submitted details of the top 10 commodities in this area, he continued.

“Understanding in detail the parameters in force for the various stakeholders involved with such cargoes should inform how advances in safety can be achieved.”

In the past 12 months there have been several high-profile incidents: a fire on the Maersk Honam in March was followed days later by a similar incident on the Maersk Kensington.

Container safety has also been on the minds of shippers in Northern Europe, where congestion in Belgian and Dutch barge terminals has resulted in “questionable” practices, it has been claimed.

Mr Storrs-Fox said it was not just the industry but governments that needed to play their part in addressing the problems, calling for increased regulatory coordination and harmonisation.

He added: “As a step towards the goal of true cargo Integrity, we are calling on the IMO to initiate a correspondence group to advise on the best means of achieving such unified guidelines.”

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