Poor or incorrect packing accounts for nearly four out of ten cargo incidents occurring in the supply chain, figures show.

Data released by the Cargo Incident Notification System (CINS) shows that 30 per cent of incidents are caused by bad packing. In a further seven per cent of cases, the packing used was not suitable for the goods being transported.

Another cause for concern is how some cargo is being declared, since a quarter of all incidents were found to be a result of misdeclaration. However, only four per cent were caused by handling errors, indicating that incidents are more likely to be caused near the beginning of the supply chain than during the distribution process.

But the dangers posed by these incidents were clear. Eight out of ten substances involved the recorded incidents were classed as dangerous goods, which makes the fact that 46 per cent of incidents involved a leakage even more concerning. A further quarter were misdeclared and, most worrying of all, eight per cent of incidents involved fire and/or an explosion.

“More than a third of the incidents involve dangerous cargoes, which by nature will react with other substances,” says Reinhard Schwede of the cargo services and dangerous cargo department of Hapag-Lloyd.

CINS was formed two years ago to capture crucial data by members of the Container Owners Association (COA), which accounts for nearly 60 per cent of the world’s container slot capacity. Liners operators use the system to store data on cargo and container incidents to warn the industry of potential threats.

COA says that the database was put together as a response to the volume of incidents that both disrupt operations and put lives, property or the environment at risk.

“We have identified that 24 percent of all incidents involve mis-declaration and this is probably the first time that this ‘iceberg’ risk has been quantified,” says Mr Schwede, who is also CINS chair.

“With these findings, the CINS Organisation will engage with enforcement agencies, competent authorities and the IMO to gain support for the relevant changes to legislation or other safe practice recommendations.”

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