European research shows that 15 per cent of all import containers carries a dangerous concentration of hazardous gases or vapours. This could for example be due to pest control-related fumigation, but increasingly it turns out that the gases and fumes in question were used in the production process or evaporated in the container en route. One example is the release of vapours from the glue used in sport shoes. After a three-week sea journey from China to for instance Europe, the concentration of gases and vapours can sometimes reach considerable levels. The health risks for workers are substantial; in Germany and the Netherlands, several dozen cases of work disability are known in relation to the opening of containers. In the past year, similar incidents have been documented in Belgium. Medical researchers say this is just the tip of the iceberg. In most countries there is hardly any awareness about this problem.
With this in mind, a handbook providing guidance on how to avoid dangerous gas in import containers has recently been published. The handbook 'How to open import containers safely' sets out to ensure companies know all there is to know on the problem and offers practical guidelines for risk-free operations.The book is especially relevant for importers, warehouse managers and occupational health and safety professionals all over the world. 'How to open import containers safely' is published by the European platform TGAV, in cooperation with the Rotterdam based publisher NT Publishers. The handbook was first presented at the conference 'Don't get caught by surprise', recently held in Brussels.