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

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
lossprevention.ukclub@thomasmiller.com


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