New SOLAS Container Weighing Rules

New SOLAS Container Weighing Rules

While rule changes in shipping can be difficult, and can require some time to acclimate to, they are often done for good reason. For instance, the controversial new container weight rules set forth by the International Maritime Organization have been made in response to recent maritime casualties that have come due to misdeclaration  of the weights of shipping containers. While we all agree that the safety of goods and workers during transport of our goods is important, this new rule has seen some debate.

A Short Summary

The newly effective rules would ensure that any shipping container leaving from any port in the world would be accompanied by a shipping document listing the verified gross mass of the container. The document would be signed, whether via hard copy or electronic signature, and would connect the shipper permanently with the container.

The Big Questions

A number of questions have arisen since the announcement of the rules, many of which have yet to be answered. This includes question such as who would be considered the “shipper” and what is their liability or duty of care. Also, wording of the rules leaves little guidance as to when exactly, prior to shipping, the containers should be weighed. On top of that, there are still many questions that have not been answered about enforcement of the rules and what happens should a container arrive with an incorrect or missing VGM declaration.

The Possibility of Delays

While these new rules were scheduled to go into effect on July 1, it is anticipated that there may be a delay due to concerns amongst United States-based exporters that there may be a competitive disadvantage that comes about because of them. The United States Coast Guard and the World Shipping Council (WSC) note that shippers have been required to provide gross mass information for years, but the new rules would require increased documentation. The unique worry for U.S. companies and shippers, and why many exporters are against the rule and are pushing for Congress to vote to delay implementation, is that due to stringent U.S. Homeland Security inspections, there would be further delays at ports.

Here at Alliance Scale, we support any rules that can make shipping safer and more efficient, but we also realize that they can be difficult for shippers and industries to work with at first, and can certainly cause issues in the flow of cargo. Our scales are perfect for calculating the weights of your goods, and providing accurate readings that will make conforming to the new rule simple and easy.

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