The Risks of Mis-Declared Cargo

The risks of mis-declared cargo
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TT Club's Loss Prevention Director, Peregrine Storrs-Fox, looks at the risks of mis-declared cargo.

Ensuring Cargo Integrity: Addressing Risks and Promoting Safety in the Supply Chain

Cargo mis-declaration poses significant risks in the transportation industry, particularly in terms of fires, explosions, and potential harm to personnel and emergency responders. This article sheds light on the various aspects of cargo mis-declaration, incidents observed at sea and on land, industry initiatives, available resources, challenges, and the importance of behavioral change in mitigating risks and ensuring cargo integrity.

Types of Incidents and Risks

  • Fires and Explosions: The primary incidents resulting from cargo mis-declaration, often with dramatic consequences.
  • Personnel and Supply Chain Risks: Other risks affecting individuals involved in the supply chain, including exposure to toxic cargoes and other potential dangers.

Incidents at Sea and on Land

  • Major Ship Fires: The alarming frequency of major ship fires in recent years, emphasizing the severity of the issue.
  • Fires in Port Areas: Significant fires occurring in container yards and stack areas, underlining the risks present on land as well.

Cargo Management Exercises and Industry Data

  • Liner Shipping Companies' Efforts: Cargo management exercises conducted by liner shipping companies to detect and prevent cargo mis-declaration.
  • Cargo Patrol System: Hapag-Lloyd's cargo patrol system, filtering a substantial number of potential cargo hits and uncovering thousands of proven cases of mis-declared cargoes.
  • Cargo Incident Notification System (CINS): An information-sharing platform among liner operators, highlighting the prevalence of mis-declared cargo incidents, which go beyond general assumptions.

Accessible Tools and Resources

  • Apps and Technologies: The availability of applications and tools, such as check EMT and cargo handbooks, aiding in understanding different cargo types and ensuring proper packing declarations and documentation.
  • Promoting Effective Decision-making: Empowering individuals throughout the supply chain to make informed decisions regarding cargo integrity through accessible resources.

Challenges and Regulatory Enforcement

  • Shifting Mindsets and Risk Perception: The need to foster a collective understanding of risks and promote behavioural change.
  • Training and Enforcement: The requirement for effective training on dangerous goods mandated by the IMDG code, highlighting the need for enforcement on a national scale and improving training effectiveness.
  • Regulatory Impact: Recognizing that regulatory changes take time to influence the entire global population, emphasizing the ongoing collaborative efforts between industry stakeholders.

Collaboration for a Safer Supply Chain

  • The Cargo Integrity Campaign: TT Club's collaborative initiative with the World Shipping Council, ICHCA, and the Global Shippers Forum.
  • Building Awareness and Knowledge: Focusing on dangerous goods as a fundamental aspect of cargo integrity, increasing awareness, understanding, and training.
  • Making Informed Decisions: Empowering stakeholders to make the right choices and reduce the current incidence of cargo-related incidents.

Ensuring cargo integrity is a multifaceted challenge requiring industry-wide collaboration, regulatory enforcement, accessible resources, and a shift in risk perception and behavioral change. By promoting awareness, knowledge, and training, the transportation industry can work towards minimizing the risks associated with cargo misdeclaration and safeguarding the well-being of personnel, emergency responders, and the global population.


Staff Author

Thomas Miller Group