Hong Kong Issues Note on Container Handling Safety

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

August 8, 2015

Loading containers Photo JN Port

Loading containers Photo JN Port


Hong Kong’s Marine Department has issued a reminder about safe handling of containers following the investigation into the death of a sailor on board a container vessel during cargo unloading operations.

The incident occurred while containers were being discharged from the cargo ship onto a barge, the Government of Hong Kong SAR Marine Department Notice No.106 of 2015 stated. The barge listed towards the container ship due to uneven disposition of containers loaded on the barge. At the time of the accident, when a container was being lifted up by the crane of the barge from the container ship, the barge further listed toward the containership. Suddenly, containers stacked on the barge collapsed resulting in four of the containers falling onto a hatch cover of the containership. The victim, who was working on top of the hatch cover, was crushed and killed by the falling containers.

Investigation into the accident revealed that the containers stowed in the cargo hold of the barge were not evenly distributed to prevent unduly listing of the barge, the containers in the cargo hold of the barge were not properly secured and no risk assessment was conducted prior to commencement of works.

According to Hong Kong’s Marine Department, during cargo operations for loading and unloading of containers at sea, it is important that containers stowed on a vessel should be evenly distributed to prevent causing vessel heeling; containers should be adequately secured by twist-locks, stacking cones and lashing equipment; and the cargo work should be well-planned and the risks should be assessed taking into consideration of the ship’s stability under cargo operations.

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