International Journal
on Marine Navigation
and Safety of Sea Transportation
Volume 1
Number 2
June 2007
The IMO Instruments for Ensure Safety
Transportation of Dangerous Goods
M. Popek & M. Bogalecka
Gdynia Maritime University, Gdynia, Poland
ABSTRACT: International Maritime Organization and Governments should have the possibility to establish
permanent arrangements in order to ensure the safe transportation of dangerous goods. The successful
application of regulations concerning the transport of dangerous goods is greatly depend on the appreciation
by all persons concerneds of the risks involved and on a detailed understanding of the regulations.
The International Maritime Organization (IMO)
is a technical organization established in 1958.
The International Maritime Organization plays an
important role in the promotion of maritime safety
and the prevention of marine pollution from ships.
The organization has dealing with the following
subjects: ship design and equipment, safety of
navigation, carriage of dangerous goods, solid
cargoes and containers, bulk liquids and gases,
radiocomunication, search and rescue, fire protection,
standards of training, documentation and formalities
required in international shipping.
To have the greatest effect on safety of life,
prevention of serious injury, protection of the marine
environment the following items are taken into
account as higher priority: measures to promote the
widest possible implementation and enforcement of
IMO instruments by the shipping community,
measures aimed at substantially preventing maritime
casualties or marine pollution incidents, measures
folowing a series of incidents causing or indicating
risk of loss of life, significant injuries to persons,
measures aimed at improving the safety and healt
of ship’s crews and personnel, measures to correct
significant inadequacies identified in existing
Some goods transported by sea can present a
hazard during transport because of their chemical
nature. There are classified as dangerous goods in
the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code
(IMDG Code) (International Maritime Organization
The term “dangerous goods” includes any empty
uncleanness packaging (such as tank-containers,
receptacles, intermediate bulk containers (IBC’s),
bulk packaging, portable tanks or tank vehicles)
which previously contained dangerous goods, unless
the packaging have been sufficiently cleaned of
residue of the dangerous cargoes and purged of
vapours so as to nullify any hazard or has been filled
with a substances not classified as being dangerous.
The transport of dangerous goods by sea is
regulated in order to prevent injury to persons or
damage to ships and their cargoes.
The science and technology has led to improve
ship’s construction, better ventilation, and fire-
fighting equipment. The specific requirements
pertaining to the carriage of dangerous goods
contribute to the enhancement of the safe and
efficient of these cargoes.
The majority of shipping accidents is attributable
to human or organisational error; generally the
human elements play important role of all accidents.
2.1 Conventions and Codes
The main task of IMO is to develop a comprehensive
body of international conventions, codes and
recommendations. The most important conventions
are accepted and implemented by countries whose
combined merchant fleets represent 98% of the
world. The International Maritime Organization has
adopted over the years a number of internationally
recognised codes and guides, which are of direct
relevance to the safe and secure transport and
handling of dangerous cargoes in port areas, and
which may serve as valuable source of information
in the development of national legal requirements.
In 1929 International Conference for the Safety of
Life at Sea recognised the need for international
regulation for the transport of dangerous goods.
A lot of countries have taken measures to regulate
the transport of dangerous goods. The various
recommendations, rules and codes used in the
identification and labelling of dangerous goods,
the provision for packaging and stowage varied
from country to country created difficulties for
all concerned with the transport of such goods.
The classification of dangerous goods and general
provisions concerning listing, labelling were adopted
in 1948. The International Convention for the Safety
of Life at Sea (SOLAS Convention) is the
most important international convention dealing
with maritime safety. SOLAS in a present version
was adopted in 1974 and entered in force in
1980 (International Maritime Organization 2004).
The provisions of Chapter VII of the Convention
“Carriage of dangerous goods in packed form or in
solid form in bulk” contain the main regulations
concerning the transport the dangerous goods by sea.
To minimising the risk of negligent or incidental
release of marine pollutants transported by sea
The International Convention for the Prevention of
Pollution from ships (MARPOL 73/78) was adopted
and entered into force on 2 October 1983 (Inter-
national Maritime Organization 2005). As a further
step to regulate the carriage of dangerous goods by
sea was approval by Maritime Safety Committee the
International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG
Code) in 1965. The IMDG Code amplifies the
requirements of both conventions and has become
the authoritative text on all aspects of handling
packed dangerous goods and marine pollutants by
sea. Since 1 January 2004, the IMDG Code has
attained mandatory status. It is necessary to continue
work on the amendments to the IMDG Code,
taking into account technological developments,
changes to the chemical classifications, practices and
procedures of maritime countries.
However, the present periodicity of amendments
to the Code cause problems of implementation in
some countries which had difficulties in updating
their national regulation every two years.
2.2 Training of personnel
The cargoes received on the ship equally govern the
safety of the ship and crew. The successful
application of regulation concerning the transport
of dangerous goods is greatly depend on the
appreciation by all persons concerned of the risks
involved and on a detailed understanding of the
The shore-side operations often take place inland,
many miles from the ship. The personnel loading
the containers may unaware of the more extreme
condition and force to which the content of Cargo
Transport Units (CTU’s) may be subject its sea
voyage. The shore-based personnel engaged in the
preparation of dangerous goods for sea transport
must receive training in the contents of dangerous
goods provision of the IMDG Code commensurate
with their responsibilities. The current system of
training shore staff is voluntary.
At the time of reformatting the IMDG Code the
decision was taken not to make IMDG training
mandatory for shore side personnel. It is believed
from feedback from industry that the time is right for
making such training mandatory.
2.3 Container inpection programme
Container inspection programme carried out is an
important aspect of the control measures to ensure
compliance with the IMDG Code and it is also
recognised that shipping lines carry out inspections.
Equally, to propose that every CTU’s is inspected
prior to loading on to a ship is not an option with
current shipping operational practices. The main
purpose of an inspection is as part of the control
measures of a safety management system to
determine if the system in place is effective. The
activities of professional staff include the handling
of dangerous goods: a control of stowage and
segregation instructions, a control of packing,
marking and labelling of packages, documentation
and operational responsibility for incidents involving
dangerous goods.
Governments are urged to implement inspection
programmes on Cargo Transport Units carrying
dangerous goods and report the results to IMO. In
order to obtain an accurate reflection of degree of
such inspection taking place, IMO decided to carry
out a survey to ascertation the full extent of such
inspection. Member Goverments were urged to
provide the information requested in the
questionnaire and forward completed questionnaires
to Secretariat by 1 June 2005. Only nineteen
Member Goverments had submitted the information.
The result of inspection programmes is reported
every year. Most of the deficiencies such as
detachment or improper affixation are in relation
with “placarding and marking of CTU’s” and
“labelling and marking of the packages.
According to the 2004 IMO consolidated report
on container inspection programmes, a total 7300
cargo transport units had been inspected and
1928 cargo units were found with deficiencies,
that is about 26,4% of cargo transport units had
deficiencies. The most of the non-compliance is
due to lack of training (International Maritime
Organization 2005).
2.4 Incidents reports and analysis
Every years several accidents involving dangerous
goods are reported. The SOLAS Convention and
IMDG Code required that the shipper provides the
master with appropriate information on the cargo
sufficiently in advance of loading to enable the
precautions, which may be necessary for a proper
stowage and safe carriage of the cargo.
The analysis of incidents show that there is a lack
of safety information for master, shippers and other
persons involved in transport of dangerous goods.
The investigations of accidents caused by cargoes
demonstrated that the danger is induced by different
impurities in the cargo that could react with water or
products of such reactions. Sometimes the cargo was
non declared as hazardous.
The accidents due to inadequate stowage and
carriage for the rigour of a sea voyage were not only
costly in terms of life, environment and property but
also tarnished the image of shipping.
2.5 Harmonisation of international regulations
The IMDG Code was introduced more than 40 years
ago and the new concept for cargo and passenger
ships were established for the carriage of dangerous
goods. It was used for ships with dangerous goods
stowed in conventional way. Ro-Ro traffic was not
regulated with the Code. Currently CTU’s have been
introduced where the dangerous goods are loaded.
The short lead-time for storage and quick deliveries
require harmonised regulations. The IMDG Code
does not distinguish between ocean crossing and
transport in smooth sea areas for dangerous goods.
This situation takes place in large parts of the Baltic
Sea area.
The IMDG Code contains provisions, which are
appropriate and adequate to most types of transport
of dangerous goods. Due to the differences between
the transport modes, sea and land there are severe
difficulties for the multimodal transport. Even if
progress has been made during recent years with
regards to harmonisation between International
Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR),
International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Train
(RID) and IMDG Code there are still a lot of
problems in an area where full harmonisation
is essential. The lack of harmonisation at that time
related to marking, placarding, mixed loading
and documentation and there are still obstacles
preventing a smooth crossing between the two
modes of the transport.
2.6 IMO Courses
IMO has designed the programme of model training
course “Dangerous, hazardous and harmful cargoes”
to help implement dangerous goods transport
regulations. The course includes, but no limited to
the classification, packaging, consignment
procedures, loading and segregation. The course is
intended for seafaring personnel responsible for the
handling of packaged dangerous, hazardous and
harmful cargoes aboard ships. This course provides
training for shore-based personnel responsible
dealing with the transport of dangerous goods by a
mode of transport (national or international).
Under the Organization’s programme on enhance-
ment of maritime safety, since April 2002, eleven
regional and nine courses on implementation of the
IMDG Code have been delivered. Several regional
seminares on proper stowage and securing of
cargoes inside cargo transport units have held.
The seminares have enhanced the capabilities of
personnel involved in the packing of cargoes in
cargo transport units on matters pertaining to basic
principles on safe transport and packing of cargoes,
legal requirements and magnitude of forces which
act on cargoes during road, rail and sea transport.
Certain IMO activities are dictated by the need to
take action on specific areas of maritime safety and
protection of the marine environment: amendments
to the IMDG Code, evaluation of safety and
enviromental hazards of chemicals, analysis of
maritime casualties and marine incidents reported.
The safety requirements set out in SOLAS
Convention, MARPOL Convention and in the
IMDG Code ensure the safety of ships carrying
dangerous goods and of their crews. Amendments to
the IMDG Code contribute to the enhancement of
the safe, secure, efficient carriage of dangerous
goods. Adoption of the amendments had a key role
to play in harmonisation the provisions of the IMDG
Code with those of the UN Recommendations on the
transport of dangerous goods. While the
commitment to harmonisation is important for multi-
modal transport and the efficiency of world trade, it
is equally important that sight is not lost of the
unique and specific requirements pertaining to the
carriage of dangerous goods by sea.
The results of container inspection programmes
need to be analysed and evaluated with care and
The inspections of cargo transport units
contributed towards the safety of the ship and
endorsed the need for improved training of shore-
based personnel associated with the handling of
dangerous goods.
The mandatory training of shore-based personnel
involved in the handling of dangerous goods is
desirable in the interest of maritime safety.
The courses and seminares have a significany
impact on how to identify and solve problems of
safety and security by addressing the importance and
need for proper stowage and securing of dangerous
International Maritime Organization 2004a. International
Convention for the Safe at Sea SOLAS 1974/1978, London.
International Maritime Organization 2004b International
Dangerous Goods Code, London.
International Maritime Organization 2005c. The International
Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from ships
(MARPOL 73/78), London.
International Maritime Organization 2005d. Results of
container inspection programes. DSC10/6/10, London,
26 July.