Requirements for safe securing of containers and other cargoes on board vessels - SSB No.: 14/2019

RDIMS No .: 15530310
Date (Y-M-D) : 2019-11-26

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On May 19, 2019, the second officer of M/V Maersk Patras tragically died when he fell overboard his vessel near Les Escoumins, Quebec.

Because of the accident, Transport Canada Marine Safety and Security wants to remind agents, terminal operators and masters about the requirements of Canadian and International regulations for safe securing of cargo on vessels.

Following below, we will describe requirements for cargo securing operations and specifically for lashing/unlashing containers on board vessels.

In Canada, the master of a vessel has to follow section 105 of the Cargo, Fumigation and Tackle Regulations which requires that you follow Regulation 5.6 of Chapter VI of SOLAS.  This regulation explains the requirements for securing cargoes.

According to the Regulation, you have to load, stow and secure all cargoes, other than bulk cargoes, following the Cargo Securing Manual approved by the ship's flag Administration. For ro-ro spaces, you have to follow SOLAS regulations, which require that you secure cargoes before the ship leaves the berth.

In any other situation, including container ships and containers carried in cargo spaces other than ro-ro spaces, SOLAS doesn't direct shipmasters or ports whether the cargo securing operations should be finished before or after leaving the berth. In these cases, the shipmaster makes the decision about starting and finishing cargo securing operations on board the vessel.

Regulation 5.6 of Chapter VI of SOLAS also requires that you write your Cargo Securing Manual to a standard at least equal to the IMO Guidelines on the Preparation of the Cargo Securing Manual (MSC.1/Circ.1353/Rev.1). The Guidelines take into account the requirements of the Code of Safe Practice for Cargo Stowage and Securing (CSS Code).

The Cargo Securing Manual must have safety instructions for handling securing devices and for securing and unsecuring of containers or other standardized cargo by ship or shore workers. For more details, you can check MSC.1/Circ.1353/Rev.1, Chapter 4 – Stowage and securing of Containers and other standardized Cargo, paragraph 4.1.2.

According to the CSS Code, Annex 14 (Guidance on Providing Safe Working Conditions for Securing of Containers on Deck), workers who are securing cargo have to be trained in the lashing and unlashing of containers as necessary to carry out their duties in a safe way (par. 4.4.1).

The workers also have to be trained in safe systems of work. When workers are working at heights, they should be trained in the use of relevant equipment. It is important that workers use fall protection equipment and fall arrest systems. Transport Canada suggests fall arrest systems as the primary equipment for fall safety, but the decision on which system should be the primary fall safety equipment should be based on the specific situation.

The ship owner should develop a safe method of work and put it in place on the vessel to make sure the lashers are safe when they are on the top of container stows on deck (par.

Workers have to secure cargo and specifically do container lashing and unlashing operations as described in the procedures under the ship's approved Safety Management System (SMS). These procedures have to comply with the requirements of the International Safety Management Code. For more details, check Chapter IX of SOLAS and/or the Safety Management Regulations under the CSA , 2001.

Finally, the master of a vessel has to take all reasonable steps to make sure that the vessel and the people on board, including workers, are safe. This is a requirement of section 109 of the Canada Shipping Act, 2001.

The shipmaster has the overall responsibility for making sure that the securing of all cargoes, including container lashing and unlashing, is done safely and follows the approved Cargo Securing Manual and the procedures under the ship's Safety Management System (SMS).


1. container
2. lashing
3. cargo securing

Questions concerning this Bulletin should be addressed to:

Ahmed Sewelam

Transport Canada
Marine Safety and Security
Tower C, Place de Ville
330 Sparks Street, 10th Floor
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0N8

Contact us at: Email: or Telephone: 1-855-859-3123 (Toll Free).