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 labeling as well as the right transport modes.
What are dangerous goods?
Classes of dangerous goods
|Class||Type of material||Examples|
|1||Explosive substances and articles||Fireworks, flares, arms and ammunition|
|2.1||Flammable gas (e.g. butane)||Butane, aerosols, camping gas, lighters, liquefied gas, acetylene for welding, ethylene for ripening fruits, hydrogen for industrial use|
|2.2||Non-flammable and non-toxic gases which could cause asphyxiation (e.g. nitrogen, helium, carbon dioxide) or
oxidizers (e.g. oxygen)
|Nitrogen, helium, argon, carbon dioxide, oxygen, compressed oxygen, fire extinguishers, refrigerant gas|
|2.3||Toxic gases (e.g. chlorine, phosgene)||Chlorine, phosgene, oxygen difluoride, ammonia for industrial freeing, methyl bromide and ethylene oxide for fumigation|
|3||Flammable liquids (e.g. lighter fluid, petrol)||Lighter fluid, petrol, solvents, paints, varnish, perfume, adhesives, resin solution, printing ink, dry cleaning fluids|
|4.1||Flammable solids, self-reactive substances and solid desensitized explosives||Self-reactive substances, solid desensitized explosives, matches, sulphur powder, camphor, naphthalene balls|
|4.2||Substances liable to spontaneous combustion||Phosphorus, copra, fish meal|
|4.3||Substances which, in contact with water, emit flammable gases||Calcium carbide, sodium, ferrosilicon and potassium metals|
|5.1||Oxidizing substances||Calcium hypochlorite, hydrogen peroxide, fertilizers, hair coloring|
|5.2||Organic peroxides||Hardeners, fiberglass repair kits|
|6.1||Toxic substances||Pesticides, sodium cyanide for metal treatment, chromium salt for electroplating|
|6.2||Infectious substances||Blood samples, medical samples, biological substances derived from living organisms|
|7||Radioactive material||Smoke detectors, substances for sterilization of medical products|
|8||Corrosive substances||Bleach, drain cleaner, dishwasher tablets, acetic acid, citric acid, caustic soda, car and truck batteries|
|9||Miscellaneous dangerous substances and articles||Lithium batteries, magnets, dry ice
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.
Regulations for the transport of dangerous goods
- 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)
- United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE): Dangerous Goods
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 Note/Declaration: This is a legal requirement for transporting goods by air 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): Can be obtained from the original manufacturer. Not always required, but may be asked for as part of the booking procedure.
- Commercial invoice
- Packing list
- Shipper’s letter of instruction
- Certificate of origin: sometimes required
- Additional documents that may be needed: Weathering Certificate, Certificate of Analysis (CoA), Competent Authority Approval (CAA)
- A major retailer faced fines of $144,000 due to improper shipping paper declarations for the dangerous materials in its retail-sized bottles of nail polish and sunblock.
- A leading pharmaceutical distribution company received a $91,000 fine for an undeclared shipment of skincare products containing alcohol.
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 labelling
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