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It's been more than a year since the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) amendment took effect. According to one shipping industry company, the jury is still out on how well the requirements are being monitored and enforced.

TT Club provides insurance and risk management services to the international transport and logistics community. A recently issued report by the group says government authorities might not be keeping track of the rules as vigorously as they should.

According to the report, compliance is spotty. Many countries have lax requirements and standards for hiring, so some shipping workers can't discern between a verified gross mass (VGM) and a gross weight that includes containers and dunnage. This is problematic, as this is the basis for the SOLAS amendment in the first place.

The SOLAS amendment, which went into effect July 1, 2016, mandates that shippers and carriers provide accurate weight measurement and proper weight documentation of all shipping containers before they can be loaded onto ships.

Background on the amendment

After several accidents involving overloaded or improperly packed cargo transport vessels, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) took steps to address the problem. IMO oversees the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) convention, and passed the new amendment in May 2014 after reviewing existing regulations.

Cargo Ship 2

What requirements does the amendment put in place?

Before containers and goods can be loaded onto ships, the VGM (verified gross mass) is required for containers and goods. Weighing must be done in one of two approved ways, called Method 1 and Method 2, on scales calibrated and certified to the national standards of the country where the weighing was performed. Method 1 entails weighing the entire loaded container. Method 2 requires separate weighing of everything placed inside the container, including cartons, crates, pallets, and materials used to pack and secure the contents. Individual weights are totaled and added to the weight of the empty container to arrive at the VGM.

According to SOLAS, scales must meet certification and calibration standards issued by the country in which the scale is operated. In the United States, the National Type Evaluation Program (NTEP) oversees the approval process of weighing instruments. In Europe and other countries, compliance is regulated by groups such as Measurement Canada, International Organization of Legal Metrology (OIML), National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS), and European Commission (EC).

In the United States, SOLAS compliance is enforced by the U.S. Coast Guard. Through inspections and verification, the USCG ensures that all U.S. ships follow the rules, and also checks any international ships entering U.S. waters.

Cargo Ship 5

Adam Equipment offers a selection of industrial scales that can help with SOLAS compliance and enforcement. Shippers, carriers, and maritime shipping enforcement entities will find a wide selection of products to help determine correct weights for cargo shipments.

AELP pallet beams and GK indicator

Capacity: 2,000kg/4,400lb

AELP pallet beams offer fast, precise mobile weighing, along with many other features suited for industrial environments. Ideal for measuring oversized items, AELP pallet beams are outfitted with rugged built-in wheels and handles, making them easy to move. Enclosed channels with high-quality load cells provide accurate, repeatable measurements and are built to withstand demanding weighing tasks. GK indicator offers simple operation and comes with a wall bracket for easy, secure mounting. The GK housing is constructed of ABS plastic, while a back-lit LCD features large digits and capacity tracker. AELP beams are equipped with approximately five meters of shielded cable, allowing the indicator and beams to be positioned flexibly.

AELP pallet weighing beams with GK indicator

IHS industrial crane scale

Capacity 10,000kg/22,000lb

IHS crane scales offer a strong, safe solution for weighing heavy, suspended loads in industrial settings such as shipping and production operations. Ruggedly constructed, IHS features robust metal die-cast housing, plated steel hook and sturdy, oversized shackle. A remote control allows scale operation from a safe distance. LED display readings are highly visible in any lighting conditions, including outdoors. The hold function retains the value on the display after the item is removed from the scale, allowing time for the operator to record the weight.

IHS crane scale

PT platform scale with GK indicator

Capacity 4,500kg/10,000lb

PT platform scales offer durability and quality construction for a variety of weighing needs. The PT features a large, steel base with a diamond-plate surface, adjustable leveling feet and cable. Optional ramps facilitate loading and unloading heavy objects. With full keypad and smart features, GK indicator offers a simple user interface for quick operation. The GK housing is constructed of ABS plastic, while a backlit LCD features large digits and capacity tracker. GK comes with a wall bracket for easy, secure mounting.

PT platform scale with GK indicator

GFK floor scale

Capacity: 600kg/1,320lb

With a full keypad that simplifies unit weight and sample entry, the GFK floor scale capably performs weighing tasks in industrial settings. A durable stainless steel platform and pillar-mounted ABS plastic indicator make the GFK suitable for most counting and weighing applications. The large backlit display is visible in most environments and lighting conditions, and shows unit weight, total weight and number of pieces.

GFK floor checkweighing scale

Who's in charge of SOLAS enforcement (by country)

United States

U.S. Coast Guard

United Kingdom

Maritime and Coastguard Agency


China Maritime Safety Administration (international access often restricted)


Canadian Coast Guard


Australian Maritime Safety Authority


Waterways and Shipping Administration


Secretaria de Comunicaciones y Transportes

South Africa

South African Maritime Safety Authority