Shipping dangerous goods and hazardous materials
When shipping dangerous goods or hazardous materials, you need to know which class your goods fall under and what quantity limits apply. This helps you determine the required documentation and packaging and labelling as well as the right transport modes.
What are dangerous goods?
Dangerous goods or hazardous materials can be solids, liquids, or gases, or they can be pure chemicals, or mixtures of substances, manufactured products, or individual articles. How can we do the classification or identification? They are classified according to their potential hazard, e.g., flammable, toxic, explosive, radioactive, etc.
The United Nations (UN) has established a universal system for the classification of dangerous goods to facilitate different modes of transport (Air and Sea).
Dangerous goods are defined as those goods which meet the criteria of nine hazard classes, with three packing groups whereas nine classes relate to the type of Hazard and three packing groups relate to the applicable degree of dangerous within the class. Some hazard classes are further subdivided into hazard divisions due to the wide scope of the class.
Classes of dangerous goods
|Class/ Division||List of Dangerous Goods||Examples|
|Class 1||Explosives||Fireworks, flares, aerial, cartridges, power devices, ammunition, incendiary|
|Division 2.1||Flammable gas||Butane, aerosols, camping gas, lighters, liquefied gas, acetylene, ethylene oxide for ripening fruits, hydrogen, compressed for industrial use|
|Division 2.2||Non-flammable, non-toxic gases||Nitrogen, helium, argon, carbon dioxide, oxygen compressed, fire extinguishers, refrigerant gas, fire extinguishers|
|Division 2.3||Toxic gases||Chlorine, phosgene, oxygen difluoride, ammonia, anhydrous (for industrial use), methyl bromide and ethylene oxide for fumigation|
|Class 3||Flammable liquids||Lighter fluid, petrol, solvents, paints, varnish, perfumery products, adhesives, resin solution, printing ink, cleaning fluids|
|Division 4.1||Flammable solids, self-reactive substances, polymerizing substances and solid desensitised explosives||Matches, sulphur, camphor, naphthalene|
|Division 4.2||Substances liable to spontaneous combustion||Phosphorus, copra, fish meal|
|Division 4.3||Substances which, in contact with water, emit flammable gases (Dangerous when Wet)||Calcium carbide, sodium, ferrosilicon, potassium|
|Division 5.1||Oxidizer||Calcium hypochlorite, hydrogen peroxide, fertilisers|
|Division 5.2||Organic peroxides||Dilauroyl peroxide, Peroxylauric acid|
|Division 6.1||Toxic substances||Pesticides, Toxic, sodium cyanide, Ethyl oxalate|
|Division 6.2||Infectious substances||Affecting human e.g., Ebola virus, affecting animal e.g., African swine fever virus (culture only)|
|Class 7||Radioactive material||Smoke detectors which containing radionuclides, medical apparatus or equipment where activity concentration and total activity exceed the limit for packaging|
|Class 8||Corrosive substances||Bleach, acetic acid, caustic soda, car and truck batteries filled with acid or alkali, mercury, ammonia solution|
|Class 9||Miscellaneous dangerous substances and articles, including environmentally hazardous substances||Lithium batteries, dry ice, magnetized materials
How to classify they are ‘Dangerous Goods’ or ‘General commodities’, there is one point needs to be concerned, which is Quantity limit.
For example, a perfume spray that fits into a travel bag, that may seem harmless, but if a huge number of perfume bottles ship on vessel, on truck or on aircraft, there is a big different.
Refers to the Regulations for different modes of safe transport, there are quantity limits for each package of different classes of dangerous goods.
Determine the class of dangerous goods and the quantity limits involved. The specific class of dangerous goods, and the quantity to be shipped, affects how they must be declared, packaged, labelled and transported.
Rules and Regulations for safe transport of Dangerous Goods by different Modes
The United Nations (UN) Subcommittee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods develops recommended procedures on the safe transport of Dangerous Goods. International Associations and Local Authorities base on these to publish the regulations, to provide guidelines and/or guidance for different modes of transport:
- Air: International Air Transport Association (IATA) Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR)
- Sea: International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code
- Road: European Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR)
- Rail: Appendix C of the Convention covering International Carriage by Rail (COTIF) – Regulations concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Rail (RID)
- Inland waterways: European Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Inland Waterways (ADN)
- The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Model Regulations
- The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) IAEA Safety Standards
- United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE): Dangerous Goods
- Local Authorities or governor parties
Check if your goods may be shipped by all modes of transport and how, especially when planning multimodal shipments, e.g. onward transportation from ports or airports by road or rail.
- Load and unload or handle dangerous materials/goods
- Prepare dangerous materials/goods for transportation
- Operate vehicles used to transport dangerous materials/goods
- Design, manufacture, fabricate, inspect, recondition, maintain, repair or test packages or packaging components used to transport hazardous materials
- Only transport dangerous goods in “limited quantities”
- Only occasionally engage in the carriage, loading or unloading of dangerous goods posing low risk
Ensure that your employees and the employees of your service providers have completed appropriate health and safety training for the transport of dangerous goods.
Documentation and paperwork
- Dangerous goods notes/declaration: This is a legal requirement for transporting dangerous goods by air and/or sea. The person responsible for signing the Dangerous Goods Note / Declaration is required by law to have completed the appropriate training
- Materials safety data sheet (MSDS) if any
- Commercial invoice
- Packing list
- Shipper’s letter of instruction
- Certificate of origin if needed
In addition, we may also assist with obtaining overflight permits, landing permits and customs clearance if needed.
Inaccurate information or misdeclared description of goods may lead to serious incidents or accidents, as well as penalty.
Check that you have all the proper documents in place when shipping dangerous goods. Involve the recipient, by giving all details prior to the shipment, to enable them to work with local agencies in the destination country and ensure a smooth process.
Packaging and packing methods, marking and labelling
Packaging means what types of material or component are going to pack your dangerous goods and/or hazardous materials.
UN specification packaging, packaging for refrigerated liquefied gases and test criteria for limited quantity packaging, etc., have been taken into account progress in science and technology, and there is no objection to the use of packaging, provided that they are equally effective, acceptable to the appropriate authorities and able to successfully withstand the tests.
The methods used for packing shall be complied with Authorities’ requirement. When preparing each package of Dangerous Goods and/or Hazardous Materials, following may provide you and your team some ideas:
- Types of packaging being used
- Packing instructions in Regulations
- Quantity limitation in each package
- Assembled and secured of the contents in the manner intended
All necessary marking and labeling of each package of dangerous goods and/or hazardous materials shall be fully completed. Specification of marks and labels may refer to regulations.
We, DSV, as a freight forwarder and logistics provider, together with a great knowledgeable and experienced team would be happy to serve you and your clients.
We also are an important link between you and carriers, and we play an essential role in ensuring the safe transportation of dangerous goods and/or hazardous materials
If your cargo shipped by different modes of transport to your clients globally, from ports to airports, by road or rail back to airports, our Dangerous Goods Safety Adviser (DGSA) always here to assist.
Disclaimer: this information is provided for convenience only. Please consult International Associations and Local Authorities for more details and latest information.
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