ICHCA International – the NGO association dedicated to improving safety, security, sustainability and productivity across the global cargo handling chain – has urged new international legislation to improve the safety of workers using ships’ lifting appliances (SLAs).
Speaking at a joint informal meeting of key industry bodies on 7th April, ICHCA’s Technical Director Richard Brough addressed the hazards of ships’ lifting appliances and ICHCA’s ongoing campaign to amend the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention to include mandatory classification of SLAs. The free event where he expressed ICHCA’s views was organised by a number of leading industry organisations: the Honourable Company of Master Mariners; the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology; the Nautical Institute; the Royal Institute of Naval Architects; the Royal Institute of Navigation; the British Association of Cargo Surveyors. There is currently no internationally recognised and universally applied legal requirement for ships lifting appliances and only some 3% are voluntarily included in classification society requirements by ship owners. The International Labour Organisation’s Convention 152 recommends routine inspection, examination and re-test routines for equipment but has only been ratified by a small number of states.
However, as Captain Brough pointed out, “the legal situation is confusing as there are various legal frameworks that might apply depending on the flag or port state requirements.” As a result, bad planning, the poor condition of hoist wires, and a lack of proper co-ordination are commonplace during lifting operations. More commonly, damage is caused by the structural condition of certain SLA components that have been overlooked during safety checks. The result has been injury and loss of life, as well as costly damage to cargo, equipment and even company reputations.
In association with several Maritime Administrations (notably New Zealand and Germany), ICHCA is currently spearheading the industry campaign to amend the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention to include mandatory classification of SLAs. Captain Brough discussed the progress of this campaign at a recent meeting of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO)‘s Sub-Committee on Ship Systems and Equipment. Despite ICHCA’s testimony and strong support from UK, Japan, Korea, Norway and The Netherlands and several other NGOs, some delegates at the IMO Sub-Committee asserted that there was not enough compelling evidence to introduce new legislation and that other measures short of legislation may be more appropriate. The meeting did agree, however, to take the work forward with a new inter-sessional correspondence group to analyse more incident data and recommend a course of action. In light of this, Captain Brough requested members of the audience to aid ICHCA’s campaign by submitting evidence that could be submitted to the Correspondence Group.
“After speaking with members of the audience, it is clear that the potential for harm caused by this issue has ramifications across the industry,” said Captain Brough. “ICHCA’s campaign has been instrumental in bringing this to the IMO’s attention, and we urge people to stand with us and lend their support in this crucial period of legislative debate.”