Sea transportation was considered to be objective in past

The word “danger" in sea transportation was considered to be objective in past, but today its more specific, surrounding all who are affected by these cargoes. The history of dangerous cargoes starts from centuries ago and in past safety aspects were mainly concentrated on safety of vessel, her crew or passengers and the cargoes .In present day along with the previous aspects more focus is given to the protection of marine environment. Dangerous goods/cargoes are carried in water in form of bulk (oil, chemicals, oil products, liquefied gas.etc) or in packaged form .Dangerous packaged cargoes comprises of 10-15% of total cargoes carried by sea (Berry, Antony; Collier & Paul 2008)This paper deals with the different perspectives of dangerous packaged cargoes along with the responsibilities involved in the safe movement of these cargoes in sea.

Packaged Dangerous Goods

Dangerous goods can be defined as any substances whether packaged or in bulk, intended for carriage or storage and have properties coming under the classes listed in the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code. Packaged Dangerous Goods are dangerous cargo contained in a receptacle packages, portable tank and freight container or in a vehicle. Dangerous Goods classified under IMDG Code are as follows



Flammable liquids and Solids

Oxidizing substances

Organic peroxides

Toxic and infectious substances

Radioactive material

Corrosive substances

Miscellaneous dangerous goods and articles.

It is evident that the improper packing of above listed goods can causes serious threat to a lot of factors. (Armstrong,2007)

Safe movement of dangerous cargo

In order to confirm the safe movement of the packaged cargoes categorised under IMDG code, special care to be taken on each process from packing of the goods to the delivery of cargo at the destination point. The first procedure involving in this process is to determine the class of goods and sorting it, which should be done by the shipper in accordance with IMDG code.

Packing of cargo

Packing is the process of assembling items into a unit with necessary protection coatings and marking , it plays an important role in minimizing the risk associated with the nature of the goods(Willinger,1981).Packing is done for the following reasons

To avoid exposure to the atmosphere

Easy identification from other goods

Durability of the goods

Easy and safe recovery of the cargo in case of incidents

Dangerous goods should use good quality packing’s to withstand shock and load occurring during transportation and it must be closed tightly to prevent leakage and loss of contend.

Packing should be done in such a way that it should not be affected by

Outside force such as impact or vibration.

Contamination due to unwanted substances like water, air.

Climatic condition.

Packing is either done by the shipper himself or by a third-party and naturally the responsibility falls on him for the comprehensive and relative legislation which must be observed during the preparation for transportation (Wong, 1976)

Loading, Stowage and Separation of Dangerous Packaged Goods

Stowing and lashing of cargo comes under loading operation and can be defined as placing of goods in a ship’s spot or container. (Karan, 2004)Goods on ship are subjected to all type of stresses mainly during handling, transfer between ships and shore and due to bad climate, therefore stowage must be perfect because poor stowage can lead to serious problems both at sea and land. Detailed provisions regarding stowage and segregation of dangerous goods are given in chapter 7 of the IMDG Code. It is the duty of a carrier to carefully load, handle, stow, carry and keep the cargo according to the applicable regulation.(IMO)

Two incompatible articles when kept together may result in undue hazard in case of leakage, spillage or if an accident occurs .This is where importance of segregation or separation takes place. Segregation is obtained by maintaining certain distances between incompatible goods or separating by one or more steel bulkheads or decks between them, or a combination thereof. For the purpose of segregation, dangerous goods having certain similar chemical properties should be grouped together in segregation groups (Williams, 1999) Stowage into containers must be properly and carefully done, with proper bracing, blocking and dunnage inside. It’s important that stowage plan for dangerous goods should ensure that only valid positions are used for dangerous goods when planning and loading For protecting the dangerous goods from adverse weather and from the collision impact it is better to stow goods in outboard stacks. Dangerous goods plan must be properly filled with information pertaining to the dangerous goods on board and this helps quick and easy location of dangerous goods.(Peermohamed,2002)

Marking, Labelling and Placarding of Dangerous Goods

The main aim of marking and labelling dangerous goods is to inform related persons about package contends , for appropriate handling of the goods for the safety and health purposes and for identifying the goods during transportation. This is predominantly important because when an accident involving these goods occurs, marking and labelling give more clear and immediate notice of dangerous characteristics of the goods. If the dangerous goods are not properly packed, marked, labelled and documented in accordance with the regulations, the carrier should not take the goods on board (SOLAS)

Some of the guidelines of marking dangerous packaged goods are stated below

The size of the labels depends on amounts of goods packaged

Labels should be placed in such a way that they should be visible when

packages are stacked

Format, design and colour of the labels should follow the standards as per the Dangerous Goods Code

Packaging should be of a contrasting colour or be clearly visible against the packaging used on the other goods

Requirements for inner package marking are different from standard marking

and for packages the standard marking must include:

Proper shipping name of each type of dangerous goods in the package

UN Number

Class label for each class of dangerous goods in package

Markings must pass tests for legibility, water resistance, colour fastness and staying affixed (stickers are commercially available) (Armstrong,2007)

Placards should be attached on cargo transport units to notify that the contents of the unit are dangerous goods and present risks, unless the labels affixed on the packages are clearly visible from the exterior of the cargo

Transportation of Packaged Dangerous Goods

There are lot of factors to be considered during the carriage of dangerous goods and most important of it is information. It’s very vital that all the persons especially crew and master involved in a voyage must be aware of the nature and properties of the cargo and this is mainly for cargo protection and safety of the lives and properties in ship. If the carrier is unaware of the nature of the cargo loaded in his ship it will be impossible for him to take necessary precautions and obviously consequences will be there. For example a burning cargo placed deep down in stow cannot be discarded by a ship during its voyage .The other cargoes stacked nearby can also catch fire and if this cargo happened to be a undeclared hazardous cargo consequences can be unimaginable, therefore it is vital to have a precise and dependable information about the cargo as decision made on partial information can result in more damage (Jackson, 1981)

Documentation for Dangerous Goods

The paper declaration of dangerous goods by the shipper makes sure that all in the transportation chain are aware that dangerous goods are being transported. This ensures that they are correctly accepted, handled and loaded and if an incident or accident occurs, either in ship or in the port, what the accurate response should be..According to the SOLAS Convention, the IMDG Code demands the consignor who offers dangerous goods for transport must describe the dangerous goods in a transport document and should provide additional information and documentation as specified. The dangerous goods transport document may be in any form, provided it contains all the information required by the IMDG Code.( Özbek,2008)

Dangerous Goods Flow –Chart Inbound

Source:UKOOA 2002

The cargo will only be accepted if all the above steps have been taken. Failure to comply with any of the above steps will result in rejection.

According to IMDB code following details should be included in the documentation

Consignor’s name and contact telephone number

Subsidiary risks, if any ,of the goods

UN number on goods

Information about other packaged goods (non dangerous goods) within the load and placed after listed dangerous goods(IMDG Code,1965)

Legal Aspect of Transportation of Dangerous Packaged Goods.

Common law

In common law, the common carrier is the insurer of the goods and is bound to carry goods he publicly professes to carry unless there is reasonable excuse. He may, however, refuse the goods where there is no possibility to carry the goods in safety or where the goods are insufficiently protected. Based on these notions, it has been said that there are no common carriers of dangerous goods.(Hameed,1996)

The International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code

There had been limited recognition of the potential problem and lack of international response by the International Maritime Organization for a number of years. In 1965 IMO introduced International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code (IMDGC) .The new code attempted to merge many varying customary rules and procedure related to the transportation of dangerous cargo at sea. Other transport modes were also consulted and the best and most effective methods examined and tested in conjunction with technical experts and the insurance industry. The International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code requires either two signatures on a single transport document, or one signature on each of the Dangerous Goods Transport Document and Container/Vehicle Packing Certificate which shall be attached to each other. The IMDG Code is brought into UK law through the Merchant Shipping (Dangerous Goods and Marine Pollutants) (IMO,2010)

The International Safety Management Code

The ISM Code is a major development in safety in the marine context. It heralds a period of significant change in the marine industry and its repercussions are likely to be felt right up to the very top of the marine food chain.ISM Code has larger Implications for the carriage of dangerous goods

The Safety Management System (SMS) provides the framework for compliance with the Code. Under the ISM Code, if the cargo is to be carried on the specific type of vessel, the company has the duty to ensure that the ship is properly constructed and equipped to carry dangerous goods safely.(Özbek,2008)

Role of English Law

English court normally acts in this situation when there is a resultant damage due to hazardous nature of the good .The court looks at many factors and the dangerous nature of the goods is not sufficient enough because the law is more concentrated or focused on dangerous situation rather than dangerous nature. Thus the term ‘dangerous’ extent beyond matter likely to result in physical loss of or damage to ship, crew, cargo or cleaning expenses and delay, and covers all features of the cargo which might result in detention of the ship.( Özbek,2008)


An increasing number of dangerous cargos are now transiting our globe. In present day there is still doubt about the problem arising out of transportation of dangerous and hazardous goods like noxious and polluting substances and industrial wastes. The only way to eliminate this risk is either to prohibit the carriage of dangerous goods by sea or to impose such strong measures, but this is practically impossible but however packaged goods generally cause less accidents, but they are handled frequently and in close proximity to people. They are mixed freely with a great amount of normally combustible material, namely general cargo, in circumstances with a high potential for minor troubles. However rarely, packaged dangerous goods also have reported some major disaster.

Word Count: 1966