Beginning July 1 of 2016 the SOLAS Container Weight Verification Requirement becomes mandatory for all shippers, freight forwarders, vessel operators and terminal operators. The rule was implemented due to undeclared goods, violations involving dangerous goods, and improperly packed or incorrectly declared container loads. These violations jeopardize the center of gravity of the vessel and create instability, putting the vessel at risk of capsizing.
The new revision to the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) places the burden or requirement on the shipper, regardless of who packed the container. Under this new rule there will be two acceptable methods of verifying weight.
Method 1: Weighing the packed container using certified and calibrated equipment
Method 2: Weighing each item of cargo that will be paced into the container (ex: pallets, cartons, dunnage, packing and bracing material) and those weights to the weights to the tare weight of the container. Method 2 is not to be used for bulk cargo (ex: bulk grain, scrap metal, etc.)
Estimating weight is not permitted. There is no exception to this requirement.
The U.S. has required weighing containers for years therefore it will not have the same impact on the U.S. as it will on foreign countries. Many countries have pushed against the rule due to increased costs. Many ports outside the U.S. do not have the infrastructure in place to comply with the new rule. The new container weighing requirement will force them to upgrade their facilities and hire/train additional personnel to oversee the container weighing process. Method 2 will be beneficial for those foreign countries allowing them time to correct their infrastructure and train proper personnel. Compliance with the new rule will bring safety for the shippers, safety for the crew, safety for the carriers and a reduction in damaged cargo.
The benefits from the successful execution of the container weight rules are all safety driven; decreased accidents, decrease in lost cargo, decreased wait times at the port, decrease damage to containers. Compliance will provide global uniformity to container weighing which will benefit shippers, carriers and the vessels’ crew.