The SOLAS Container Weight Verification Requirement
Storage & Accommodation Services Ltd
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The IMO's Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) at its 93rd session (May 2014) approved changes to the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) convention regarding a mandatory container weight verification requirement on shippers. This is an effort WSC has been advocating for many years. Dangerous Goods, Solid Cargo and Containers (DSC) Sub-committee approved changes to the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) convention that will require verification of container weights before loaded containersmay be placed aboard ships. The DSC report was approved by the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) in May 2014 and adopted by MSC in November 2014. The requirement making container weight verification a condition for vessel loading will become legally binding on July 1, 2016.
Under the SOLAS amendments, there are two permissible methods for weighing: Method 1, which requires weighing the container after it has been packed, or Method 2, which requires weighing all the cargo and contents of the container and adding those weights to the container’s tare weight as indicated on the door end of the container. Estimating weight is not permitted. The shipper (or by arrangement of the shipper, a third party) has a responsibility to weigh the packed container or to weigh its contents. Under either Method, the weighing equipment used must meet national certification and calibration requirements. Further, the party packing the container cannot use the weight somebody else has provided, except in one specific set of defined circumstances.
A carrier may rely on a shipper’s signed weight verification to be accurate. The carrier does not need to be a “verifier” of the shipper’s weight verification. Nor do the SOLAS amendments require a carrier to verify that a shipper providing a verified weight according to Method 2 has used a method which has been certified and approved by the competent authority of the jurisdiction in which the packing and sealing of the container was completed. However, it is important to note that, for the shipper’s weight verification to be compliant with the SOLAS requirement, it must be “signed”, meaning a specific person representing the shipper is named and identified as having verified the accuracy of the weight calculation on behalf of the shipper.
Source: World Shipping Council
Implications of this fast approaching change may catch many shippers out, as some ports are either unable, or unwilling to offer the weighing service. Furthermore transport companies may find long queues at terminals that do offer a weighing service, resulting in waiting time charges to shippers. Shippers that are looking for certainty need to plan ahead, and of course one way is to have your own container weighing system at the point of loading.
Cost is always a consideration, as is reliability, but there are products on the market that can help. Storage & Accommodation Services Ltd have identified one such supplier offering a simple yet effective solution
Griffith Elder based in Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk have developed a system that can be used to verify the weight of loaded containers and supply a print out that can meet the requirements of SOLAS. Further details can be obtained from SAS
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