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Safety procedures for Container Spreader, Working with Containers and How to Deal with Stevedore Damages?

The spreader is a device used for lifting containers and unitized cargo. Container spreaders are always to be used for lifting full or loaded containers. The use of wire slings must not be used to lift loaded containers as this places excessive stress on the container. The spreader used for containers has a locking mechanism at each corner that attaches the four corners of the container. A spreader can be used on a container crane, a straddle carrier and with any other machinery to lift containers. Explained below a brief guide on safe handling of container spreaders.

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Oil Tanker Safety Guide
  1. SWL of Spreaders : All portable spreaders belonging to the vessel must have their SWL, and weight clearly marked and must have a valid test certificate.

    A container spreader
    Container spreader

  2. Inspection before use : Before any portable spreader is taken into use it must be inspected and approved by a responsible Officer.

  3. Container's Gross Weight : The gross weight of the container must never exceed the SWL of the spreader.

  4. Spreader Weight : The weight of the spreader and the gross weight of the container must both be taken into account when calculating the SWL of the derrick or crane.

  5. Damaged Spreaders : Damaged or substandard spreaders must never be used. If the vessel's own portable spreader is damaged, it must be clearly marked as not for use and the relevant Management Office informed that repairs and retesting are required.

  6. Landing of Spreaders : Container spreaders can suffer damage if landed on their lifting lugs. Spreaders are to be landed with the lifting lugs either in the sockets of a container or in the deck sockets. If this is not possible, they must be landed across timber bearers that keep the lifting lugs above the deck.

Working with containers :

The decks, hatch covers, lashing bridges and holds of a container ship can be hazardous places to work. To avoid accidental injury, exercise care and follow these rules:
  1. when working on deck, always wear high visibility clothing, safety shoes and a hard hat
  2. always install temporary fencing and safety bars before starting cargo operations
  3. never allow fittings to be thrown onto the ship’s deck from a height
  4. check that sliding sockets and stacking cones are removed from hatch covers before opening

  5. spreader working with containers
    Container spreader

  6. when working in the vicinity of moving containers, never work with your back towards a container or stand where a swinging container could strike you
  7. never stand or walk under a raised container
  8. never place your hand or clothing under a container that is being lowered
  9. when working on the top or side of a container, use safe access equipment and never climb containers
  10. if working from a portable ladder make sure the ladder is properly secured, has non-slip feet so that metal-to-metal contact is avoided. Wear a safety harness, a hard hat and high visibility clothing. Attach the line from the harness to a secure point and arrange for a member of the ship’s crew to stand-by to assist
  11. take care climbing onto a lashing bridge. There could be loose items of equipment that can fall or the safety bar could be across the opening
  12. tidy loose equipment that is lying on decks, hatch covers, lashing bridges and coamings. These are trip hazards
  13. never climb up a stack of containers. Use an access cradle
  14. take care when fixing penguin hooks or lashing rods, as these can slip and strike someone
  15. avoid excessive stretching, bending or leaning when placing lashing rods. Their weight can be deceptive
  16. close access gratings after passing through. They are there to protect you
Stevedore damages to ship or cargo

Stevedore damage is often the cause of bad relations between Owners and Charterers. We therefore, cannot emphasise strongly enough to be on continuous guard for stevedore damages, and if damage occurs it must be immediately recorded, and acknowledged by the responsible party. Care should be exercised with regard to promises that damage reports may be signed at the end of the discharge/loading operation, as the person who gave such assurance may not be available and his substitute knows nothing about the matter.

It must be made clear, between the stevedore company and the Master, with the assistance of the agent, of the procedure to be followed in case of damage. This should be done before starting cargo operations by establishing: It is of the utmost importance to have a constant watch on deck, including inspection of the holds, in order to detect damages as quickly as possible, taking into consideration that one or two day old damages, may not be acknowledged by the stevedores.

At the time of occurrence of damage, please inform the management office and/or commercial operator as soon as possible. It must be stressed that the requested information is to be sent in writing in due time and prior to sailing.

Damages are to be recorded in the stevedore damage report with date/time, etc., and also in the logbook with date, time of occurrence, etc.

A stevedore damage report must be made out as follows In all cases the charterers are to be notified in writing.

When the cargo handling operation is completed, the Chief Officer shall prepare a “Stevedore No Injury Report” and have the responsible stevedoring person sign it.

Further reading: How To Prevent Stevedores Accident

How to Deal with Hull Damages by Stevedores

Our additional pages contain somewhat larger lists of resources where you can find useful informations

  1. Containership operation : Cargo Securing
    There are six degrees of motion at sea that a ship may have to encounter in a voyage. However, pitching, heaving, and rolling are three major forces that impact most on a containership's lashing arrangement. Lateral rolling motion factors the greatest challenge for piles of containers. If containers are to be carried safely on the deck of a container vessel, they must be tightly connected to the ship. It is done with the aid of devices known as twist locks. .....

  2. Containership operation : Common reasons for stowfall
    Container stows often fail due to container stacks being too heavy and too high overall, exposing the lower containers to excessive transverse racking and compressive forces due to the tipping effect. Such an anomaly may occur if the ship is unable to calculate the forces acting on stow with precision. The Cargo/Container Securing Manual is limited in this respect as the examples of container weight distributions shown may not cover all permutations and eventualities. Software programs have the advantage of taking into account all known variables........

  3. Containership operation: Cargo hold ventilation
    Cargo holds ventilation onboard a containership is very important as it minimizes the risk of harm or damage to cargo. A proper ventilation system assures the quality of the transported goods by preventing the formation of condensation in cargo spaces, reducing the harmful heating of the shipment, and removing potential hazardous gases from cargo spaces........

  4. Containership operation: Safety of personnel
    In port stevedores board the vessel for lashing, unlashing and cargo operations and their safety whilst on board is the vessels responsibility. It is important to understand that any injury caused to stevedores or shore personnel due to a condition on board being unsafe, can result in very large claims to the vessel. .....

  5. Containership operation: wet damage in cargo hold
    When water entered into a ship's cargo, hold it may cause wet damage to the cargo inside containers especially to those stowed on the bottom stack, unless the bilge water is drained in a proper and swift manner. The regular sounding of bilge well or monitoring bilge alarm must be one of the very important or rather essential routine jobs on board. However, this job requires special attention on board. All bilge alarm need to be tested regularly......

  6. Reefer cargo care at sea
    Unlike permanent cold stores or refrigerated ships, where robust equipment is under constant care by qualified personnel, the ISO refrigerated container may travel by several different modes and be in the care of many and varied people. Before being despatched to load refrigerated cargo (usually at shippers' premises), the container and its machinery should be subjected to a rigorous examination.......

  7. Containership cargo stowage and planning
    Master and officers of all vessels require a good working knowledge of the various kinds of cargo they are likely to carry their peculiar characteristics, liability to damage, decay, or deterioration, their measurement, and the usual methods of packing, loading and discharging, stowage, dunnage, etc., as the Master is responsible for the safe loading of his vessel and the proper storage of the cargo......

  8. Stacking Weights Restrictions
    rior loading cargo, stacking weights of containers must be checked against the allowable stack weights on board the vessel both on deck and under deck. Neglecting above may cause serious damage to ships structure, hull and eventually overall stabilty of ship may get affected. Maximum allowable stack weights of Tank tops, Hatch covers and Decks shall not be exceeded at any time......

  9. Lashing strength calculation
    Lashing strength of deck cargo shall be ascertained by using the appropriate lashing strength calculation software where provided. All resulting values for lashing strength must be within the tolerance limits prescribed by the vessels classification society......

  10. Dangerous goods stowage and segregation
    Clear guidelines apply to the stowage and segregation of Dangerous Goods and in some cases may require particular commodities to be carried in completely separate holds. The interaction of two cargoes will not occur if the packaging of that cargo remains intact. However, the Master must always consider the possible effect should the cargo escape for any reason and should not restrict his consideration to those cargoes which are listed in the IMDG Code......

  11. Reefer Container Stowage
    Reefer containers proposed for stowage must be accompanied by a reefer manifest. This reefer manifest should contain Container No., Stow position, Commodity, Temperature, and Ventilation status......

  12. Out of Gauge Container Stowage
    It is essential that, during out of gauge cargo operations, a careful watch is kept for any damage caused to the vessel, her equipment, or to containers. Notice of any damage must be immediately brought to the attention of the Stevedore's representative, the Port Captain/Supercargo and Charterers Agent. Damage reports must be completed in all cases giving the full and comprehensive details of damage caused......

  13. Special Container Stowage
    After receiving stowage plan ships, Chief Officer must ensure that all Deck Officers are aware of any specialized containers due to be worked, such as reefers, vents, over-heights, over-widths, flat racks, etc. and their unique requirements.....

  14. 20 or 40 or 45 feet Compulsory Stowage Locations
    Most cargo securing manual provide a guideline for different container types. These stow positions of 20 feet,40 feet, or 45 feet are also incorporated in a ship-specific stowage planning software and highlight errors if any violations occur......

  15. Irregular Stowage of Containers
    The Terminal Planner shall present the pre-loading plan to the Chief Officer to obtain his approval/comments. The Chief Officer, in turn, enters the cargo data in the loading computer and must ensure that the required criteria, concerning stack weights, trim/stability/stresses/ visibility limitations, DG cargo segregation, and specialized container requirements, are met. He should allow the bunker/freshwater consumption during the voyage and all possibilities of ballasting / deballasting. The completed loading plan must be presented to the ship's Master for approval.....

  16. Over-stow of Containers
    With a closed roof, the hardtop the container offers the same reliable protection as provided by a standard box. Hardtop containers have more lashing points than other container types. This guaran- tees reliable and convenient securing of cargo. .....

  17. Hatch Cover Clearance (High cube containers Under Deck )
    Hatch cover clearance must be checked carefully in case of loading over height containers or high cube containers underdeck......

  18. Other matters regarding cargo stowage as necessary
    Bulk products carried in a closed container might include malt, grain, seed, polythene granules, chemically inert powders, brake fluid, detergent, fruit juice, wine, non-hazardous oils, sodium silicate, fatty acids and maple syrup amongst many others......

Other Info Pages
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Cargo stowage and planning How to plan effctively
Cargo care at sea Precautions to be taken
Reefer cargo handling Troubleshoot and countermeasures
DG cargo handling Procedures & Guidelines
Cargo securing Check items prior departure port
Safe navigation Various factors affecting ships navigation at sea
Hull strength & stability Prior loading how to ensure hull strength & stability of ship
stevedores injury How to prevent injury onboard
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