'Each entity can only really be responsible for what it can control'
We kick off our #SafetoFly series with Glyn Hughes, Director General of The International Air Cargo Association (TIACA) who speaks about the role of government law agencies, transparency in systems, and awareness building
What are some ways in which airlines, shippers, and manufacturers can ensure greater coordination and visibility to enable lithium batteries to be carried safely?
Firstly it has to be stated that safety is and will remain the number one priority for the industry and as we see increased numbers of lithium battery shipments then the industry has enhanced collaboration to improve safety in the supply chain. It starts with regulations that protect supply chains and consumers and these are in place. It then needs shippers to focus on compliance and enhanced product safety, this is also in place. Then it needs supply chain logistics partners to focus on processes and procedures that protect delicate and sensitive products whilst being moved through the system, backed up by quality management and safety management systems and robust training programmes. These are in place. We also need transport containers, packaging, and equipment that enhance safety by protecting the goods in transit and these are in place. So the ingredients are known and the recipe is clear, 100% focus on quality and safety. But we continue to see incidents so what are we missing?
Sadly the vast majority of incidents are related to either the smuggling of counterfeit lithium batteries or to a lack of awareness of the appropriate rules and regulations. So more needs to be done by government law enforcement and compliance agencies to eradicate this growing trend. Lack of awareness of the regulations is something we all need to focus on as many new shippers join the industry each year, facilitated by the growth of e-commerce, and we collectively need to enhance educational programs.
What are some of the notable aspects of the new IATA rules that can probably be a step in the right direction in this regard?
IATA rules as published in the Dangerous Goods Regulations are drawn from the ICAO technical instructions which are developed in specialized expert groups by states following input and dialogue with the industry and other experts who have spent considerable energy in testing products and packaging and looking at processes and applicable training regimes. They are constantly being reviewed and upgraded where necessary and the competency-based training regulations is one such area of improvement. The need for operators to have robust safety management systems in place is also important but we must be cautious to think that operators can have transparency of upstream processes. Each entity can only really be responsible for what it can control.
How can government authorities stop rogue producers and exporters and stop the abuse of dangerous goods shipping regulations that puts flight safety and passenger safety at risk? Are there any countries or governments that you can name that have taken strict action in such cases by taking action and penalizing that can be a good example to the industry at large?
In addition to protecting flight safety, passengers, and cargo supply chain professionals we should also consider that counterfeit goods, particularly those involving lithium batteries, are also an extreme hazard for consumers as the ultimate purchaser. Counterfeit batteries are not produced to the same high standards as licensed, certified professionally manufactured products that are compliant with strict safety legislation. It is therefore imperative that rogue products are identified by customs officers at either point of export or import and that international coordination then ensures that the original point of manufacture be located and law enforcement authorities close it down and take appropriate action against those responsible for the production.
How does TIACA aid its members in training, briefings on how to handle and ship lithium batteries going forward? Has it held any training sessions on the recent rules, do share details on the same?
Safety in the supply chain is critical so TIACA partnered with ICAO to jointly develop a course with appointed professional training and consulting partner SASI to author and deliver. The course which educates on applicable rules and regulations whilst explaining the importance of relevant and complaint application in the operational context will help address the need for enhanced awareness by regulators of operational issues and of the need for increased awareness of regulations by practitioners.
As an apex body that brings together various stakeholders of the whole global air cargo community: shippers, freight forwarders, ground handlers, airports, airlines, manufacturers, solution providers as well as cargo media, universities, and academia, how does TIACA ensure greater adherence to regulations regarding lithium transportation with regards to its members? Do representatives of each of these sectors meet to discuss the ramifications of recent unfortunate incidents involving smoke, fire, extreme heat, or explosions involving lithium batteries that have led to accidents?
TIACA is not a compliance organization but does indeed facilitate significant discussions as to where issues exist within the supply chain. This is where the value of a trade association which represents all sectors really has benefit. We then work with international regulatory agencies such as ICAO and others to ensure our members' collective concerns are raised to the appropriate authorities. We also support the work of other trade associations, such as FIATA and IATA who have specific programmes, training, guidance material, or compliance processes in place. Safety is our collective responsibility.
#SafetoFly #LithiumSafe #SafeLithiumshipments