What are hazards associates with carriage of solid bulk cargo on ships ?

The prime hazards associated with the shipment of solid bulk cargoes are those

  1. Relating to structural damage due to improper cargo distribution

Great care is required to avoid over stressing the vessel and doing structural damage. Carefully planning of the load and the discharge must be made, and at all times the maximum loading of the tank top must not be exceeded.

In tween deck vessels, high density cargoes such as iron ore should be loaded in the lower hold only to avoid damage to the tween deck.

  1. Loss or reduction of stability during a voyage.

 The maximum loading for each hatch must not be exceeded. Care must be taken to ensure that the peak height of an untrimmed cargo is not excessive thereby increasing the tank top loading

  1. Chemical reactions of cargoes.

The cargo itself may be corrosive or the liquid draining out of the cargo into the bilge’s may be corrosive. In some ships severe damage has occurred. For example coal and sulphur.

Dust Very dusty cargoes may be hazardous to humans and the environment and so measures may have to be taken to control the level of dust created.

 Example :  stop load/discharge in high winds

Associated hazards are as follow:

Dust from cargo working:

Many bulk cargoes are dusty and some extremely so. The effects of breathing dust can never be beneficial and are probably harmful in some cases at least. Where possible it is always best to avoid exposure to cargo dust and employers and their representatives have a duty to minimise dust.

Anyone required to be on deck when a dusty cargo is being worked and anyone sweeping cargo with a brush or with air should wear a suitable respirator.


Fires account for around 25% of all losses in the containership fleet, and around 10% of the fatalities. Although most fires start in engine rooms and are contained by engine room carbon dioxide systems, hold fires tend to spread and cause more widespread damage. In many situations it is the variety of cargoes being carried that make control of hold fire difficult. Hazards are increased due to the difficulty of access once a fire has initiated.

About the author

Amit Sharma

Graduated from M.E.R.I. Mumbai (Mumbai University), After a brief sailing founded this website with the idea to bring the maritime education online which must be free and available for all at all times and to find basic solutions that are of extreme importance to a seafarer by our innovative ideas.

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