What You Need to Know When Shipping Hazardous Materials

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shipping hazardous material

There are few things to keep in mind when shipping hazardous materials. There is an astounding volume of hazardous products transported throughout North America each day. Everything from perfumes and alcohol to dyes and paints, clinical waste, battery powered equipment, natural gas, ammunition and so much more.  Moving these hazardous materials requires critically important documentation and due diligence to ensure you’re complying with the national and international regulations.  Failure to meet these strict rules can result in dramatic financial penalties, and even the possibility of criminal charges.

As shipping experts in ground transportation (including sensitive and hazardous materials), we have summarized some information and tips to help ensure your shipment reaches its destination safely and smoothly.

Classification and Documentation

U.S. Department of Transportation defines hazardous goods as belonging to one of nine hazard classes:

Class 1 – Explosives
Class 2 – Gases
Class 3 – Flammable liquids
Class 4 – Flammable solids
Class 5 – Oxidizers and Organic Peroxides
Class 6 – Toxic Materials and Infectious Substances
Class 7 – Radioactive Materials
Class 8 – Corrosive Materials
Class 9 – Miscellaneous Dangerous Goods

Just the smallest error in documentation can result in the shipment being denied by a transport authority or border services. This is incredibly disruptive and costly  to the supply chain management process.  So, make sure all documentation is in place such as the hazard class/division and hazard identification number, emergency contact information and appropriate shipper certification.

Packing and Labeling

While packing is important with any freight, it is even more crucial when dealing with dangerous materials. Damaged cargo or a leak could put the lives of the carriers/drivers at risk, as well as those in the vicinity of your shipment on route. Refer to the US Department of Transportation or US Environment Protection Agency on regulations regarding the appropriate container or packaging material required for safe transport of your hazardous material.  Place cards, marking and specific warning labels must be visible. Warning examples include Flammable, Combustible, Poison Inhalation Hazard, and Radioactive. The warning labels need to adhere to the regulated size and appear on all sides of packaged cargo.

Training and More Information

Job specific training is required for anyone handling or transporting hazardous materials. Ensure your carrier meets the specific requirements to ship your particular product.  A freight broker or logistics provider with experience in hazardous materials shipping will have access to these  particular carriers and be able to manage the logistics involved. Other resources include the National Association of Chemical Distributors, The Pipeline e or Hazardous Material Safety Administration, and Transport Canada

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