Time running out to fit stronger heavy vehicle lashing points

4 December 2007

Some heavy freight vehicles face being turned away from Cook Strait ferries and other roll-on roll-off vessels if they don’t comply with new cargo safety lashing requirements by 1 January, Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) warns.

“Time is fast running out for heavy vehicle owners and operators to fit new cargo lashing points to their vehicles to comply with the requirement, which was introduced by MNZ more than two years ago in response to international maritime concerns over the number of accidents and injuries caused by unsecured loads at sea,” said John Mansell, MNZ General Manager of Maritime Operations.

Under Maritime Rules Part 24B, heavy vehicle owners and operators have until 1 January 2008 to ensure that any road freight, road tank or road livestock vehicle with a gross weight of more than 3.5 tonnes has the proper lashing points fitted.  The lashing points, which are usually comprised of metal loops or hooks fixed to the vehicle’s chassis, allow a vehicle to be tied down securely during transit, and must be constructed to appropriate international maritime strength and safety standards.  All other vehicles over 3.5 tonnes must already have suitable lashing points fitted to travel.

“The problem currently is that many heavy vehicles covered by the rule either aren’t fitted with the right type of lashing points, or have them fitted in the wrong place, which means the vehicle cannot be properly secured. This has resulted in some vehicles moving during rough weather, causing some major damage and potentially resulting in serious injury or worse.”

Mr Mansell said MNZ had given fair warning to industry that any vehicles covered by the rule that did not have the correct lashings fitted by the cut off date of 1 January faced being turned away from wharves and ferry terminals.

“Since the new rule was introduced in June 2005, owners and operators have had plenty of time to get their vehicles up to scratch, with MNZ already extending the grace period by six months to give them time to comply. We’ve also been working very closely alongside the trucking industry and ferry and shipping companies, who have been making a concerted effort to ensure that their clients understand what is required, so ignorance of the rule is no excuse.”

Mr Mansell said checks by MNZ’s Safety Audit Team at New Zealand ferry terminals over the last few months showed that while most owners and operators were well aware of the requirement, many vehicles covered by the rule were still non-compliant or only partly compliant.

“The simple message is that heavy vehicles to which the rule applies need to have the proper lashing points fitted if they want to travel on any roll-on roll-off vessel from 1 January. Any vehicle which is not fitted with the required lashing points can expect to be refused access by the ship’s master.”

Mr Mansell said the lashing points should be fitted by engineering companies with access to certifying engineers approved by Land Transport New Zealand. More information about the requirement was available by contacting MNZ or visiting the website www.maritimenz.govt.nz.

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