HCB interview - episode 2 - changes in incident reporting
This episode looks at how the industry is starting to work in collaboration to catch the small incidents before they escalate to large-scale disasters - a more proactive approach to risk mitigation.
Changes in Incident Reporting: Improving Safety in Maritime Transportation
Incident reporting plays a crucial role in identifying risks and improving safety measures in maritime transportation. Over the years, the industry has undergone significant changes in response to growing concerns and incidents involving hazardous cargo. This article explores the evolution of incident reporting in the maritime sector and highlights the industry's efforts to address safety issues.
Learning from Past Incidents
The shipping industry has recognised the importance of learning from past incidents to prevent future accidents. Incidents, both major and minor, have served as catalysts for change and have led to revisions in regulations and safety protocols. For example, incidents like the MSC Flaminia and the spate of incidents involving calcium hypochlorite in the 90s prompted collaborative efforts to address safety concerns.
Collaboration and Incident Databases
To enhance incident reporting and learning, several major shipping lines established the Cargo Incident Notification System (CINS) network in 2011. CINS focuses on capturing low-level incidents, including those related to dangerous goods and various types of cargo or container-related disruptions. By analysing these incidents, trends can be identified, and necessary changes in regulations can be proposed to organisations such as the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and non-governmental entities.
Identifying Hazardous Commodities
CINS and similar initiatives have been successful in identifying hazardous commodities that pose significant risks during transportation. Commodities such as charcoal, calcium hypochlorite, and fish meal have been listed as major problem substances. Interestingly, the containerisation of previously bulk shipments has introduced new challenges due to the potential mixing of multiple commodities within a single container.
Different Levels of Hazard
The hazards associated with anonymous box containers, which can hold various types of cargo, are different from those posed by tank containers, which generally contain homogeneous liquids. However, even tank containers can be affected by neighbouring containers in the event of a fire or leakage, highlighting the complexity of managing hazards in a mixed cargo environment.
The Role of Digital Technologies in Incident Reporting
Digital technologies, including blockchain and peer-to-peer systems, hold promise for improving incident reporting and data sharing. In theory, digitisation can facilitate seamless validation and transfer of information among stakeholders, ensuring that relevant data is available to make informed decisions. However, the success of digital solutions relies on the quality of data input and cooperation from all parties involved in the supply chain.
Importance of Proper Declaration of Cargo
Accurate and comprehensive declaration of cargo information is critical to effective incident management. Incomplete or inadequate information can hinder efforts to assess risks and take appropriate preventive measures. Aligning safety data sheets (SDS) with dangerous goods declarations (DGD) and comparing them for consistency is a potential step toward improving data integrity and reducing inconsistencies.
Challenges and Future Prospects
While progress has been made in incident reporting and data sharing, challenges remain. Enhancing communication and awareness among shippers, freight forwarders, and carriers is crucial. The shipping industry needs to emphasise the importance of comprehensive communication down the supply chain, ensuring that all relevant information regarding cargo characteristics and potential hazards is effectively conveyed.
Changes in incident reporting practices have led to significant improvements in maritime safety. Through collaborative efforts, incident databases, and the potential of digital technologies, the industry is striving to prevent accidents, learn from past incidents, and promote a culture of safety. Effective incident reporting and data sharing are essential for safeguarding lives, protecting the environment, and ensuring the smooth flow of global trade in the maritime sector.