International Relations – Safety Concerns

Aug 6, 2015News

Safety: a concept often talked about but rarely fully understood. We are told to wear our seatbelts, look both ways and avoid sharp objects. Safety concerns are ever-present in our personal lives and work lives. However, there is a dramatic difference between what constitutes as safe when moving goods from one corner of the world to another, or even from one part of the country to another. Under those circumstances, safety becomes a balancing act of obeying international and national laws: doing right not only by customers but also valued employees. Thankfully, businesses are not alone in working to improve safety concerns. There are national and international organizations in place to ensure safety is a top priority.

Processes: The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSHA) had a significant impact on raising safety standards for workers in the United States. Following 1970, OSHA developed an international affairs sector with goals of improving safety and health standards around the world. Improving safety and health standards is important but what does this mean from both employer and employee standpoints? Employers must allow for regular inspections. These inspections can be routine or the result of an employee complaint. Additionally, OSHA complaint posters must be placed throughout the business so employees know where to file complaints in the case of an issue or potential issue. It is the responsibility of the employer to educate and provide information to employees on hazardous substances, first aid issues and potential emergency issues. OSHA also requires any employer to provide training sessions for employees on the business’s emergency response plan.

Progress: Organizations are making progress in the area of safety care and concern—and it’s not just warehouses that are aware of the problem. Changes have been made among cargo weight, containers, food safety and seafarer health. Cargo weight is an essential factor in ensuring safe operation of ships. If a container is overweight, there are safety concerns for the ship, its crew, and those working at the port receiving the cargo. Because of these concerns, the World Shipping Council actively pursues various ways to improve accurate documentation of container cargo weights. The World Shipping Council hopes to require mandatory verification of cargo weights by 2016.

Did you know containers get lost at sea? The World Shipping Council estimated an average of 546 containers are lost at sea every year (this estimate excludes catastrophic events). In 2014 the international liner shipping industry carried approximately 120 million containers packed with cargo, which means only a fraction of a percentage of containers are lost at sea. Efforts are continually being made to decrease that number, with the hopes of one day reaching zero. By changing stacking and lashing procedures (the process to secure containers), greater measures are taken to secure the containers; thus, protecting the product and the employees on the ship. The International Standards Organization has been working to identify consistent methods of stacking and lashing better protecting containers and workers.

These cases above are just two examples of the safety progress being made in global logistics.

Promise: Above all, safety and concern for employees and product are the number one concern for a business, especially one in logistics. Providing essential care for employees is to be expected, but it is up to the business to ensure employee needs are placed as a high priority and all safety measures are taken to prevent tragedy. It is no surprise that there are an assortment of potential concerns when it comes to international travel, logistics and health. However, it is up to businesses to rise to these challenges and not only meet the safety bar but exceed it. TOC works with carriers and vendors that put safety first, ensuring our customers’ freight has the best chance at reaching its destination without damage and without causing damage.


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