Prime Mover Magazine

Cargo loading gets safety boost as truck trips forecast to reach $7M

Funding under the National Heavy Vehicle Safety Initiative program addressing unsafe loading and cargo restraint inside international shipping containers has been welcomed by key freight associations.

Members of the Freight & Trade Alliance (FTA), the Australian Peak Shippers Association (APSA) and Container Transport Alliance of Australia (CTAA) have supported the Government's decision to raise awareness and knowledge concerning best practice for packing and load restraint of shipping container cargo including cargo destined for export from Australia and cargo arriving as overseas import.

“Cargo inside shipping containers that is inappropriately packed, poorly restrained and unevenly weight distributed can cause serious heavy vehicle road safety issues," said CTAA Director Neil Chambers in a prepared statement.

"This includes the heightened risk of truck rollovers, load shifts contributing to road accidents, and heavy vehicle axle mass breaches," he said.

"Additionally, these issues can have a big impact on the safety of workers engaged in loading or unloading shipping containers.”

In 2017/2018 over 8 million Twenty Foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) were exchanged through Australia's capital city container ports in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Fremantle.

This number is forecast to reach 19 million TEUs by 2032/33 as the container transport logistics sector anticipates significant growth over the next two decades.

“Over 80 per cent of containers through Australia’s capital city ports are transported by road, with a current estimate of over 3 million truck trips per annum carrying full containers to and from ports," said Chambers.

Under Chain of Responsibility (CoR) laws, importers and exporters will have obligations to ensure that their actions or inactions, according to Chambers, do not contribute to a breach of the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL).

He said this includes taking practical steps to ensure that cargo inside shipping containers is packed and restrained so as not to cause a breach of road laws when containers are transported on a public road in Australia.

Funding, according to FTA Director Travis Brooks-Garrett, will allow FTA, APSA and CTAA to collaborate with all parties in the container logistics chain to develop guidance materials, online training initiatives, and face-to-face forums to promote best practice in shipping container packing, cargo load restraint and weight distribution.

“These guidance materials and initiatives will assist importers to engage with their suppliers and packers overseas, and for exporters to review their packing and transport practices, to improve safety compliance,” he said.

“This is a first for Australia, and is likely to receive international recognition given the international push for greater adoption of global safety standards such as IMO/ILO/UNECE Code of Practice for Packing Cargo Units (CTU Code), which dove-tails well with the container packing guidance contained in the Australian Load Restraint Guide.”

The project will be developed over this financial year, with materials being promoted nationally in the first half of 2020.

“We are aiming for broad national reach, and the development of online materials and training & awareness building outcomes that are enduring.” said Brooks-Garrett.

Chambers added, “If we can help save one life, or prevent one heavy roll-over or accident caused by load shift, as well as lower the commercial risk of cargo damage from poor container loading practices, it will be worth it.”

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