Cargo handling is ‘the’ most important step in the shipping life-cycle. Over the years, human beings have developed many sophisticated tools to ease loading and unloading of massive shipping containers. However, human interference is still very much important in the task which often results in accidents; sometimes fatal.
Shipping containers are made from high gauge steel and are extremely heavy, even when empty. An empty 20ft shipping container can weigh more than 5000lbs (2300kgs). This is reason enough for shipping personnel to be aware of the various threats the containers can pose and consider appropriate safety measures.
Here we have brought 10 tips to stay safe while handling a shipping container. Read on…
Ensure personal protection :
Wearing the right protective gear like safety helmets, harness, shoes etc. reduces hazards associated with handling shipping containers manifolds. You must also know how to use different safety equipment like fire extinguishers. Pay attention to the regular maintenance of all these tools and check for damages before you use them.
Follow all safety standards :
Train your crew on all safety devices available onsite, as well as the best practices in cargo handling; especially during bulk cargo handling. These devices are crucial from the safety perspective and hence, should not be disturbed in any way.
Allocate a shelter :
Designate a place in the work area where everyone can stay protected in case of falling cargo or while the cargo is being loaded on the deck via cranes. It is an absolute no-no to stand under a hoisted container.
Secure the containers :
All containers must be strapped tightly. Always double check the door lock, otherwise the content inside can seriously injure the people handling them.
Spread the load :
The cargo inside a container must be distributed evenly to ensure proper balance. Don’t over stuff it. Keep the heaviest items at the bottom and stack the lighter cargo at the top. This way, your container will not be top-heavy and eliminate the risk of toppling over.
Ensure trailer safety :
It is also important to ascertain that the trailer carrying the cargo is technically sound. Brakes, lights, indicators, mirrors etc. must be double checked before loading the container.
Hire the right crane :
Cranes are a must in cargo handling. However, different cranes can lift containers of different weights and sizes. Make sure you hire the right one for your specific need.
Entering unventilated container :
Many a time, the personnel need to enter an unventilated container for inspection which can be potentially hazardous. Most of the containers are pest and rodent proof, hence are exposed to harmful fumigants. Also, many of them carry chemicals. Entering them without proper protection has often proved to be fatal. So, don’t do it.
Lighting is important :
Well-lit places reduce accidents to a great extent. If you don’t have natural lighting, invest in bright LEDs.
Ask for help :
Even after adhering to all measures, the safety may be compromised. In such cases contact the supervisor immediately. Also, have a first-aid kit handy.
Lastly, always keep in mind that your safety is largely your responsibility. Accidents are often caused due to negligence. Hence, ensure all safety measures to stay safe while handling shipping containers.