The 7 Golden Rules for Shipping Dangerous Goods

Dangerous Goods have long been a challenging subject for many carriers and customers alike. There is often confusion around what actually constitutes Dangerous Goods as well as how they should be shipped. For those who are involved in shipping hazardous materials, however, it is imperative that they know the rules and laws that are in place and that they understand why they exist. Failure to comply with the governing standards regarding Dangerous Goods can result in damage, injury, hefty fines, and even jail time. Ignorance of the law is not a valid excuse for someone who is found to be in violation of the Dangerous Goods guidelines. This means that working with hazardous materials is a major responsibility and that any party who wants to handle Dangerous Goods should be 100% confident that they are ready to perform the job reliably. Those who are interested in handling Dangerous Goods can start by carefully following these 7 golden rules.

Rule 1: Definition of Dangerous Goods

Dangerous Goods are defined as substances or articles that pose a risk to people or surroundings. These risks are generally due to the chemical or physical properties of the goods. Understanding whether or not something can be classified as Dangerous Goods is the first step in knowing how to ship it.  

The dangers that are inherent in hazardous materials can affect human life, the environment, or the equipment that is used throughout the shipping process. If a problem occurs, the person who was handling the Dangerous Goods will be held responsible for the negative consequences of their actions. This means that a negligent worker can be blamed for illness, injury, and even death that may be caused by mishandling of the material. In addition to this, they may also carry the burden of pollution that has harmed the environment or damage that has been inflicted upon equipment such as trucks, airplanes, or a warehouse and its machinery.

In many cases, quantity matters in determining if something can be considered hazmat. For instance, cinnamon is a substance that is not classified as Dangerous Goods when bought for personal use. However, it can be considered hazardous when purchased in gallons or drums due to the possibility of the packaging getting damaged. A large amount of cinnamon powder can pose a serious threat to the surrounding area if it is released.

Anybody can identify substances as Dangerous Goods, but all other steps beyond this must be carried out by a certified professional.

Rule 2: Classification

When it comes to hazardous materials, there are 9 different classes, each with multiple subcategories. These classifications are highly important, and all Dangerous Goods fall into one of them. Any hazmat shipment needs to be classified in order to send over the road, on an ocean container, or on an airplane. Data about the product should be collected from all relevant sources such as MSDS, manufacturers, or government sites. Once this is collected, the shipment can be classified to comply with all governing standards.

Rule 3: Method of Transportation

The method of transportation plays a large role in the shipping of Dangerous Goods. Whether you ship via ground, ocean, or air will generally be determined by the quantity of the material and the urgency of the shipment. A passenger aircraft can only carry a small amount of Dangerous Goods due to the risk involved with people onboard. A commercial flight will be able to hold more, while an ocean container can haul the most based on its sheer size.

Rule 4: Specification of Packing

Packaging material used for shipping hazardous materials must be rated and is required to follow Particular Packing Requirements (PPR). All packing materials used for Dangerous Goods go through testing to assure sustainability and confirm that they are following the laws in place for them. The packing material must also match what is being packed within it. This means that liquid materials are required to be shipped with certain absorbers while some solid goods may require packing that is designed to absorb shock and prevent damage.

Rule 5: Marking and Labeling

While accurate marks and labels are important for any shipment, they are particularly significant and legally required for all shipments that contain Dangerous Goods. Primary labels are the first thing that anyone will see on the freight or cargo. This lets everyone involved with the shipment know that there are hazardous materials included in the shipment. Handling labels allow workers to understand what risks are inherent in the product and how it should be handled both on and off the vessel. Warning labels provide vital information about where the freight can be safely stored. All of these labels must be applied to the shipment in order to comply with regulations.

Rule 6: Documentation

Documentation is key when it comes to a hazmat shipment being accepted. All of the original, official documents must be included with the freight in order to ensure safe handling and provide accurate information. This includes documents such as MSDS, DGD, and any special authorizations that may be required based on the classification of the freight and the specific materials involved. If these documents are not completed properly and thoroughly, there is a risk that the freight could be rejected for transport.

Rule 7: Quality Check

This is not something that is required by laws or regulations, but it is a step that full-service carriers should perform in order to go the extra mile in servicing their customers. EZR Group, for example, utilizes a second individual to review the shipment for its final signoff. This is an individual who has not previously been involved with any of the prior steps of the shipping process. This allows for EZR to provide a fresh set of eyes and offer a third party assessment of the shipment, assuring that it is ready for transport and complies with all necessary regulations.

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