Get onboard: what you probably don’t know about IMDG but should

If you or your organisation is involved in any capacity with the transportation by sea of dangerous goods then you need to know the what, why and how of the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code. The best way to get on board is to undertake IMDG training. And if you think it’s just for the seafaring types, then think again. Training is also compulsory for shore-based personnel who are engaged in the sea transport of dangerous goods. So whether you are on the high seas or a land lubber, IMDG training is the only way to make sure dangerous goods get from A to B safely and securely.

Just to recap, the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code lays out the rules for safe transportation of dangerous goods by sea. Its main objectives are to:

  • Protect human life
  • Prevent marine pollution
  • Facilitate the safe movement of dangerous goods

The IMDG Code applies to all ships which are subject to the following two conventions:

  1. International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974 (SOLAS 1974) – this covers the safety implications of dangerous goods onboard ships;
  2. International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) – which covers the pollution aspects for ships carrying dangerous goods

The IMDG Code lays out what constitutes dangerous goods and regulates how they are to be transported. The IMDG Code requires that such goods are correctly and safely:

  • Classified and identified
  • Packed
  • Marked and labelled
  • Documented
  • Stowed on board the vessel
  • Segregated from other goods with which they might react dangerously

Emergency response actions must be comprehensively documented and easily available and the Code also contains security requirements to minimise the risk of terrorists accessing and misusing dangerous goods.

The transport of dangerous goods is, unsurprisingly, a dangerous business and there are multitude of ways in which terrible accidents can happen. Dangerous goods constitute about 10% of all containerized shipments worldwide and have caused around 30% off all shipping incidents. Maintaining the integrity of dangerous goods in shipments is therefore crucial to keeping all stakeholders – and the marine environment – safe.

In order to stay up to date with the rapid changes in the maritime industry, the International Maritime Organisation periodically publishes changes to the IMDG Code.

Changes can include, but are not limited to, issues such as:

  • Important amendments to terminology
  • Amendments to certain dangerous goods classifications
  • Updates to stowage and packing instructions
  • New segregation groups
  • Updates to the list of dangerous good categories

The most recent changes incorporate the 2018 edition (featuring Amendment 39-18). The changes are optional for the 2019 calendar year but become mandatory on 1 January 2020 for two years. Likewise, the 38th amendment became mandatory on the 1st January 2018 and included changes regarding the packing of Cargo Transport Units (CTUs). The amendment is extensive and will require training in order that employees are in full compliance with the Code’s requirements.

According to shipping company Hapag Lloyd, non-compliance in the transportation of dangerous goods and restricted commodities is estimated to be the root cause of a major shipboard fire every sixty days. Chapter 1.2 of the amended code clearly references the CTU Code with exporters of dangerous goods now under mandatory obligation to secure their products inside the shipping container in a way that conforms to the CTU Code.

It is essential that organisations use the correct version of the Code and have their staff fully trained and competent in the requirements of the code. Referring to an outdated code can have dangerous consequences, especially given the rapid changes that can take place in the industry. With lives and the environment at stake, IMDG Code training should be a no-brainer. The loading of goods in maritime environments is fraught at the best of times but add dangerous goods or hazardous commodities to the picture and the risk increases hugely. Reduce that risk with effective training. Our IMDG Code general awareness training includes but is not limited to:

  • Descriptions of all classes of dangerous goods
  • Labelling, marking and placarding requirements
  • Packing, stowage, segregation and compatibility provisions
  • Purpose and content of dangerous goods transport documents
  • Emergency response documents

Give us a call today about your training options – when it comes to dangerous good shipping, everyone needs to be sea worthy.

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