768 - 06/11 - Container floor loadings/limitations - Worldwide

  • Date: 10/06/2011

The Association has been advised that shipping lines are currently seeing an increasing number of damages to wood floors and understructures of ISO Containers.

One reason for this is the fact that the quality of the wood for container floors (although still in line with ISO requirements) seems to be deteriorating in new build containers.

The main reason for these damages, however, is the fact that very often too heavy concentrated cargoes (not properly distributed over a wider surface area) are being loaded into the container and/or the use of forklift equipment for loading and unloading the cargo in the container that are too heavy.

This mishandling could potentially result in both the risk of damage to cargo and handling equipment but first and foremost in the threat of personal injuries on the part of the people involved in the process of (un)loading the containers.

The load/carrying capabilities of a container floor/understructure are limited to the below:

Limitation for concentrated Loads on regular wood floor container
A maximum floor load is 4.5 tons per running meter for a  20’ container and 3.0 tons per running meter for a 40’ container. To check the floor load, the cargo weight is to be divided by the cargo length.

Example: cargo weight is 10 tons, supporting length is 4m. Load per meter: 10/4 = 2.5 tons per meter.

Limitations for use of forklift trucks on wooden container floors

Item  Limit
Front axle load (forklift truck plus cargo)max. 5.460kg
Contact area per tyremin. 142 cm²
Width of tyremin. 180 mm
Wheel spacing (on one axle)min. 760 mm

In order to avoid accidents which can result in personal injuries to personnel it is recommended to strictly adhere to the above mention limits during the loading and unloading process.

Source of information:   
Loss Prevention Dept.
UK P&I Club

Industry developments

Polar Shipping

Legal, navigational and environmental resources, news and updates on the development of polar shipping. Read more

US VRP Compliance

With effect from 30th January 2014 non-tank as well as tankships calling at US ports will be required to submit VRPs.  For Club and other resources to assist in compliance click here

International Environmental compliance

Environmental Compliance resource page collates material in respect of International environmental compliance issues affecting our Members. Information from the Club, Loss Prevention and external resources has been collated in one place for ease of reference.

MLC 2006

The Maritime Labour Convention enters into force in August 2013 - resources, news & advice on implementation can be found in this dedicated section.  READ MORE

International sanctions

Recent guidance & corresponding material in respect of international sanctions against various countries has been updated with respect to temporary easing of sanctions against Iran.  READ MORE


Essential precautions and preparation against piracy, as well as additional information and resources, loss prevention advisories and useful external web links

Emergency Contacts

If you need to call our offices out of hours and at weekends, click After Office hours for a up to date list of the names of the Duty Executives and their mobile phone numbers. 

Ship Finder

This Ship Finder is updated on a daily basis. Members who need to advise the Club of updates to their recorded ships' details should advise their usual underwriting contact.