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A Quick Guide to Shipping Dangerous Goods


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There are several points to consider before presenting dangerous goods to carriers for shipping.

Hazardous materials regulations require that you classify, package, and mark these materials appropriately. In other words, you must use the correct labeling so that handlers are aware of the hazard.

Keep reading for a quick guide to shipping dangerous goods.

What Are Dangerous Goods?

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and other agencies recognize nine categories of dangerous goods for the purposes of business shipping. These nine categories include:

1. Explosives
2. Gases
3. Flammable liquids
4. Flammable solids
5. Oxidizers
6. Toxic and infectious substances
7. Radioactive materials
8. Corrosives
9. Miscellaneous dangerous goods

Furthermore, agencies divide these categories into subcategories. For example, they might further classify these categories based on temperature sensitivity, which they often call flashpoint. Agencies may also subcategorize these groups based on toxicity and flammability.

Packaging and Labeling Dangerous Goods

An understanding of these categories is vital if your company shipping involves dangerous goods. There are different rules for shipping different classifications of these materials.

Despite the classification, there are national and international packaging and identification specifications that you must follow. For example, every employee involved in packing, shipping, and receiving dangerous goods must receive special training.

This training teaches them how to package, handle, label, and document these items for transport. Failure to train your employees is a violation of government regulations.

There are also different shipping rules for various transportation options. For instance, consider the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code.

It applies to shipping hazardous materials by sea. An effective online IMDG training course will familiarize your staff with the provisions of this code.

Shipping Dangerous Goods

You can verify whether an item you’re shipping classifies as a dangerous good by reviewing OSHA’s Safety Data Sheet (SDS) information. If the SDS leads you to believe that an item you’re shipping is a dangerous good, the FAA suggests that you perform a needs assessment and analysis.

If so, your employees will require special training. The training will include general security awareness and safety. It will also cover function-specific training about handling dangerous goods.

Before shipping your cargo, a properly trained employee must review the hazardous materials tables. They must determine the number of items allowed when you ship dangerous goods.

They must also figure out the labeling and packaging requirements. Your staff must ensure to use the rules that apply for your chosen shipping options.

The employee must also gather any documentation and special packaging materials needed to go along with the shipment if required. You or a properly trained employee must also label the package as required by hazardous material shipping rules.

If you don’t follow the special packing rules, you could find that you’re in violation of regulations for shipping hazardous materials and face considerable fines. In a worst-case scenario, improper packaging of hazardous goods can even lead to a serious accident.

Once you’ve ensured that you or your staff has complied with all regulations for your cargo, it’s ready for shipment.

Learn More About Business Operations

Hopefully, our quick guide to shipping dangerous goods has pointed you in the right direction. Still, there’s always more to learn about industry and business.

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