Still haven’t figured out the new SOLAS regulations? Don’t worry we got you covered… but first of all, what does SOLAS mean and what is it?
SOLAS stands for International Convention for the Safety Of Life At Seas, and its main objective is to ensure the safety of merchant ships. Did you know its first version was born in response to the Titanic tragedy in 1914? It has gone through some changes ever since, but the Convention in force today is SOLAS 1974 with multiple amendments made every few years.
The most recently issued guidelines were created last year (2015) regarding a weight verification requirement for all containers shipped at sea. You must be thinking, but declaration of shipping weights has been required for a long time. Yes, declaration, but not verification. This is now mandatory due to the unsafe conditions that misdeclared weights have caused for vessels and most importantly crews.
Now, the million-dollar question: who will be responsible for compliance and pay for this?
Basically anyone listed on the BOL as the shipper will ultimately be responsible for gross weight verification. In today’s supply chains that could be the original shipper, or a NVOCC or freight forwarder.
But just as every time a new guideline is issued, SOLAS will be that one misfortunate case of non-compliance and you may be wondering, what’s the worst thing can happen? Well, that will entirely depend on where you are shipping from as each country’s maritime organization will be responsible for enforcement, but according to the rule, if non-compliant, the containers shall not be loaded on the vessel and both the terminal and the shipper could be held responsible.
How to comply? It’s easy, there are two allowed verification methods are:
1. Weighing the entire container, contents and packing, or
2. Weighing contents separately, adding the packing material and the container tare weight.
You can weigh your cargo with equipment such as bench, cargo, floor, forklift, or even truck scales as long as they are authorized for certified VGM (Verified Gross Mass).
At EP America we make sure your cargo is never left behind due to VGM non-compliance, allow our experts to assist you at: +1-855-EPA FAST (372 3278)