The shipping of dangerous goods is not something to be taken lightly; it requires a tremendous amount of training and responsibility. When dealing with shipments containing hazardous materials, one must consider all aspects of the process very carefully, from packaging and labeling to the way in which it is handled at the terminal. Overall, the process of shipping and handling dangerous goods is a very complex one, and this article will break down the steps to get you started.
What are dangerous goods?
Dangerous goods is an umbrella term that characterizes a number of different types of products, but to put it in simpler terms, dangerous goods can be anything that could potentially cause harm to those handling during transit if not done with caution. These materials can be solids, liquids, or gasses, and their hazardous effects can cause minimal to fatal damage. Since there are so many different types of products that are characterized as hazardous, shippers and carriers will commonly classify them according to their nature, such as flammable, poisonous, explosive, etc.
Understand what you are shipping
Dangerous goods encompass a variety of different materials, so understanding exactly what you are shipping is a crucial step in this process. Take nail polish and lithium batteries as an example, these two products are completely different from one another, yet are both considered hazardous goods. Nail polish requires very different handling, packaging, and labeling compared to lithium batteries. This example illustrates the importance of identifying and understand what you are shipping – different types or dangerous goods require different types of procedures.
Always follow rules and regulations
Due to the high risk of this process, there are industry standard rules and regulations in place that must be followed to ensure the safety of all parties involved. Always keep in mind that each mode of transport has its own set of regulations and that these regulations can vary from country to country.
When dealing with ocean freight, dangerous goods will be regulated by the IMDG Code, which is used by shippers and carriers internationally. The use of the IMDG Code is mandatory, as it protects the ship’s crew and established a code of conduct for safe transport. The application of the IMDG Code comes with guidelines for the proper care of that particular dangerous goods shipment, such as packaging, labeling, handling, etc.
When shipping hazardous goods via air freight, you will encounter a completely separate set of rules and regulations. The international standard rules for transporting hazardous goods on aircrafts is set up by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). The IATA has a specific set of regulations for dangerous goods which are known as the DGR and are recognized by airlines worldwide. IATA’s DGR are the authoritative rules for shipping hazardous goods on aircrafts and were made to provide shippers and carriers the proper instructions on how to document these shipments.
Packaging is key
Proper packaging is essential to any type of shipment in order to avoid damage, but when dealing with hazardous goods, an added amount of attention is required. Packaging your product effectively is the foundation for safety, it will ensure that no damage will be made to the product and those handling the shipment can do so without risk of harm. If the packaging is done poorly or it is not up to standards, there will be delays in your shipment.
Always make sure that the packaging contains the correct labels. These labels must always be visible, must contain the code, and must indicate the level of risk. Along with labeling, documentation is another critical component to present alongside the packaging. The proper documentation allows you to describe exactly what is contained inside the packaging, how to handle the shipment, and other important details pertaining to the product.
Here at Global Cargo, our employees are trained specialists that are here to help you with your dangerous goods shipments. Get in touch with us today!