The tragic explosions in Tianjin and Beirut have marked a decade of increased concern over the safety of dangerous goods stored in ports, terminals and other warehousing facilities. The giant explosions that rocked both port cities – so large they could be seen from space – both came from poorly stored dangerous goods in warehouses.

Four industry groups have collaborated to address this dangerous issue, producing best practice guidelines in the form of a white paper and warehouse checklist.

In the face of increased volumes of dangerous goods transported in containers, and the occurrence of major incidents as well as a plethora of lesser accidents, there is a need for guidance on safe storage and handling of dangerous goods in warehouses, including port and terminal facilities. Building on their combined expertise and experience, the International Cargo Handling Coordination Association (ICHCA), the International Vessel Owners Dangerous Goods Association (IVODGA), the National Cargo Bureau (NCB) and the World Shipping Council (WSC) have published a dangerous goods warehousing white paper.

While there are existing international, national and local regulations for dangerous goods in transit for various modes of transport there is no direct equivalent for warehouses.

The dangerous goods warehousing white paper, and its accompanying checklist, detail the risks involved in storing and handling dangerous goods and, importantly the measures to be taken in containing them. Topics covered include: competency and training of workforces; property construction; fire protection; security equipment and protocols and emergency response procedures. It is intended as a practical guide to systematic and documentable processes for those managing and operating storage facilities to ensure on-going safety but also that incidents are containable if and when they arise.

Broken down into eight key functional areas of operation, this comprehensive 14-page checklist is designed as both a planning guideline and a review tool, as well as an everyday device for maintaining safety management vigilance.

The white paper has been endorsed by many industry stakeholders including BIMCO, the Bureau International des Containers (BIC), the TT Club, International Group of P&I Clubs, the International Maritime Organization and the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Association (FIATA).

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Mr Sam Chambers

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