It is known that overweight containers are a very serious problem. Therefore, UK P&I Club released a guide focusing on how much cargo weight can be safely and legally loaded in containers.
Namely, George Radu, Claims Executive along with Meaghan Argentieri, Senior Claims Executive of UK Club, highlight that overweight containers can:
- Lead to vessels being improperly stowed, which can adversely affect vessel stability and possible loss of containers overboard.
- Cause damage to chassis and terminal handling equipment.
- Cause injuries to dock workers while containers are handled in container yards.
- Contribute to citations or accidents on highways and railways.
To remind, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has amended the Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS) to require, as a condition for loading a packed container onto a ship for export, that the container has a verified weight.
The shipper is responsible for the verification of the packed container’s weight. This requirement became legally effective on July 1, 2016. After this date, it became a violation of SOLAS to load a packed container onto a vessel if the vessel operator and marine terminal operator do not have a verified container weight.
The Verified Gross Mass (VGM) is the weight of the cargo including dunnage and bracing plus the tare weight of the container carrying this cargo. SOLAS requires the shipper to provide VGM in a “shipping document,” either as part of the shipping instruction or in a separate communication, before vessel loading.
How much cargo weight can be safely and legally loaded in containers for highway transport in the US?
For highway transport in the US, the maximum cargo weight that can be safely and legally loaded, when a triaxle chassis is used, is:
- In a 20” container – 44,000 lbs (19,958kg)
- In a 40” container – 44,500 lbs (20,185kg)
According to the experts, shippers must be aware that when factoring in the truck, chassis and container weight, in most places, the maximum gross vehicle weight cannot exceed 80,000 lbs (36,287kg), which is the basic legal limit for US highway transport.
Even though some states allow higher weight limits, we recommend that the cargo weight is limited to the above-stated maximums. Shippers must spread the weight evenly throughout the container or the container can be subject to an axle weight violation.
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