Four industry groups have collaborated to address the issue and produce best practice guidelines in the form of a white paper and warehouse checklist.
In the face of increased volumes of dangerous goods transported in sea containers, and the occurrence of these major incidents as well as a plethora of lesser accidents, there is a clear need for guidance on safe storage and handling of dangerous goods in warehouses, including port and terminal facilities.
Building on their combined expertise and experience, International Cargo Handling Coordination Association (ICHCA), International Vessel Owners Dangerous Goods Association (IVODGA), National Cargo Bureau (NCB) and World Shipping Council (WSC) have responded to this critical requirement by developing a dangerous goods warehousing white paper.
In introducing the white paper, Uffe V Ernst-Frederiksen and Ken Rohlmann both of IVODGA highlight: “The temporary or long-term storage of dangerous goods in a facility, necessitates careful planning, supervision and continued due diligence.
“While the major disasters in Beirut and Tianjin have been widely reported, there are many other incidents around the globe that do not garner the same attention, but which have the potential to escalate. There are existing international, national and local regulations for dangerous goods in transit for various modes of transport but there is no direct equivalent for warehouses.”
Incidents are containable if they arise
The dangerous goods warehousing white paper, and its accompanying checklist, detail the risks involved in storing and handling dangerous goods and, importantly, the measures to be taken in containing them.
Topics covered include competency and training of workforces; property construction; fire protection; security equipment and protocols and emergency response procedures. It is intended as a practical guide to systematic and documentable processes for those managing and operating storage facilities to ensure on-going safety but also that incidents are containable if they arise.
Richard Steele, ICHCA, said: “A pivotal element of our guidance is a warehouse checklist. Given our aim to provide a practical management tool, we believe the checklist format is a significant addition to the other elements of the white paper. Broken down into eight key functional areas of operation, this comprehensive 14-page checklist is designed as both a planning guideline and a review tool, as well as an everyday device for maintaining safety management vigilance.”
The white paper is endorsed by influential industry stakeholders
The dangerous goods warehousing white paper has been endorsed by influential industry stakeholders including Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO), Bureau International des Containers (BIC), Container Owners Association (COA), Council on Safe Transportation of Hazardous Articles (COSTHA), Danish Shipping, International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), International Federation of Freight Forwarders Association (FIATA), International Group of P&I Clubs (IGP&I) and Through Transport Mutual Insurance Association Ltd (TT Club).
“We have shared our work with the relevant maritime regulators and the International Maritime Organization (IMO),” said Steele, “And we welcome every opportunity to work with them on developing and refining appropriate warehousing safety instruments, codes and circulars.”