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UNECE endorses new global code of practice for packing of containers (CTU Code)

Published: 27 February 2014

Today the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) moved to protect the lives and safety of both workers and the general public by endorsing a new global code of practice for the handling and packing of shipping containers for transportation by sea and land. 

According to the transport insurance industry as many as two-thirds of accidents involving the loss of or damage to containerized cargo are thought to be caused by improper packing and securing of cargo inside the container.  Similarly, up to 25 per cent of all accidents involving trucks may be attributable to inadequate securing of cargo.

The loss of such accidents to society and to the industry is substantial, resulting in direct expenses, operational disruption and management distraction, not to mention litigation or insurance costs. As containers are increasingly moved on rail and by road to reach their final destination, bodily injury to rail operators and road users may be occurring more frequently.

It is therefore not a surprise that the correct packing and proper stowage of containers is high on the agenda of not only the transport and container industry, but also of transport safety regulators and cargo insurance companies. Increasing the level of training to further improve the expertise of those employed by shippers, consolidators, warehouses and depots to properly load containers is therefore essential.

For these reasons, the UNECE has teamed up with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) to update, enlarge and concretize the existing international guidelines for the safe packing of containers dating back to 1996.

Following more than two years of intensive efforts under the guidance of the UNECE Working Party on Intermodal Transport and Logistics (WP.24), the new Code of Practice for Packing of Cargo Transport Units (CTU Code) has been finalized with the assistance of many experts from the transport and container shipping industry. The new CTU Code is a non-mandatory, inter-modal guidance document based on best practices and internationally agreed technical provisions. It provides detailed, consistent and comprehensive information and references on all aspects of loading and securing of cargo in containers and other intermodal transport taking account of the requirements of all sea and land transport modes. 

The CTU Code is intended to assist the industry, employers’ and workers’ organizations as well as Governments in training their staff on the safe stowage of cargo in containers and to provide a global reference base for cargo insurance contracts. If necessary, the CTU Code could also be used as a reference base for national regulations and could become a model for internationally harmonized legislation in this field, should such requirements arise.

UNECE’s Inland Transport Committee endorsed and welcomed the finalization of the CTU Code and expressed the hope that the CTU Code would soon be extensively used and referred to by Governments and the transport industry and might become an important element in transport and cargo insurance contracts.

It is expected that the competent bodies within IMO and ILO will also endorse the CTU Code during the course of 2014.

The CTU Code, currently available in electronic format and in English only, will soon be available also in French, German and Russian.

For more information on UNECE’s Working Party on Intermodal Transport and Logistics (WP.24), please visit: http://www.unece.org/trans/wp24/welcome.html

United Nations Economic Commission for Europe

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