Shippers will very soon require to adhere to new mandatory container weight verification standards. In May of 2014, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and their Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) approved changes to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) requiring that container gross weights must be verified before the containers may be allowed aboard any ship. This requirement becomes legally binding on July 1, 2016. The verified gross weight is the certified gross cargo weight, plus all packing material and container tare weight.

These changes aim to:

  • Reduce error (whether intentional or not).
  • Promote safety and to collect proper shipping fees.

In order to comply with the new regulations, the cargo must be: 1) weighed at an approved weighing station at the loading container or 2) Each item in the container has to be weighed and added to the total weight calculation of the container. It is considered the shipper’s responsibility to provide the appropriate weight verification. If the certified verified gross weight is not or cannot be provided, the cargo will not be loaded.

In the truck shipping and logistic industry, as well as the agriculture and mining industry, verified weights have been a part the norm for some time. Like weighbridge scales, shippers are likely to require their own weighing technology at a cost that they are likely to either incur themselves or pass on to their consumers in order to properly weigh containers.

Throughout our reading of this new mandatory regulation, a number of potential issues or areas for clarification around which party is responsible and how to deal with non-compliant containers seem to pop-up over and over.

Who is responsible?

Sure, we know it is the shipper, but do we know for sure who the shipper is? Throughout the supply chain, there are often many stakeholders that could be considered the shipper (the packer, the logistics company, or the freight forwarder).

Does the “shipper” then take on the full or partial responsibility for any accident if they know the regulation was violated? If each owner within the supply chain is required to rely on another, what measures are in place to document which party is at fault?

Who pays to deal with non-compliant containers? If the shipper can’t be defined or if clear terms aren’t set, it may be difficult to identify after the fact who is responsible should a container require to be re-packed or warehoused.

Companies have been given a little over 2 years to prepare for this regulation to come into effect. Does this new law affect you and if so, how has it affected your business operations?