Welcoming industry measures as concern grows regarding explosions in reefer units allegedly due to contaminated gases used in maintenance in Vietnam, the ITF says it is
taking action to protect the health and safety of port workers and seafarers.
Some 900 refrigerated units were withdrawn by shipping line Maersk last month after three fatalities were linked to maintenance work carried out on containers in Vietnam.
Although as yet unconfirmed, it’s thought that some reefers may have been topped up with contaminated gas causing them to be potentially explosive under certain conditions.
ITF affiliates across dockers, seafarers and road and rail sections, have been informed of the potential risk attached to these units and are being advised to follow up with their local health and safety authorities.
ITF dockers’ section secretary Frank Leys said: “We are pleased to see that big shipping lines like Maersk have reacted quickly to this situation and we would join our US affiliate, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, in urging any companies or organisations who haven’t already taken steps to alleviate this risk, to follow suit now.“
Seafarers’ section secretary Jon Whitlow added: “We are extremely concerned for the welfare of those workers on ships who may be unaware that a defective container is being carried on board.
“Whilst of course the explosion of a container ashore is a tragic event, we think that a similar explosion on board a vessel could have potentially catastrophic effects on workers, ships and the environment.”
Additionally, inland transport section secretary Mac Urata commented: “This is not just an issue for seafarers and dockers, workers right across the supply chain are potentially at risk. We are looking now for a swift and thorough investigation into how these tragedies came about and information on what happens next to ensure workers’ safety.”