Dangerous goods are any solids, liquids, or gases that can cause harm to living creatures, the environment, or property. Also known as hazardous materials, they are subject to chemical transportation regulations.
Materials that are flammable, corrosive, asphyxiating, radioactive, explosive, toxic, allergenic, bio-hazardous, or pathogenic all fall under the dangerous goods category. Gases and liquids that are highly compressed, hot materials, and other substances that may be rendered dangerous in certain specific physical conditions are also classified as hazardous. In order to package and transport hazardous materials, you need the services of specially trained Hazmat personnel to test and certify the packaging.
Some examples of dangerous goods
The following are some examples of dangerous goods that require certified packaging:
- Compressed gases
- Dry ice
- Radioactive materials
- Chlorine tablets
- Lithium batteries
After the 9/11 attacks, poisonous, radioactive, flammable, or explosive substances have specifically come under the scanner as perceived threats of terrorism. The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) demands a high level of care in the packaging and transportation of these materials.
Dangerous goods are often indicated by a color-coded diamond shape label-on the item. Flammable materials are indicated in red, explosives in orange, and non-toxic or nonflammable materials in green. The symbols get more descriptive depending on the level of danger.
Hazardous materials packing
The DOT has classified hazardous materials into nine categories. The materials must be placarded and follow specific packaging and labelling instructions during transportation. While some materials are required to be always placarded, others require placarding only under certain circumstances.
There are three packing groups that classify the dangerous goods by the level of risk and the amount of packaging required during transportation.
Materials under this group are of the highest level of danger, and require the most protective type of packaging. If one of the goods that are transported is of group 1 category, certain combinations of other types of less dangerous goods are prohibited in the same vehicle or container.
Group 2 materials are classed as having medium danger and require less protective packaging than group on materials.
These goods pose the least danger among all regulated codes, and need the least kind of protective packaging for transportation.
Hazardous materials transportation
For transporting dangerous goods, one of the regulations is that there should be clear written instructions on how to deal with emergency situations. The instructions must be carried in the vehicle and be easily accessible in the front cabin. The driver must be hazmat trained and carry the license or permit for hazmat training at all times.
To ship dangerous goods, a special declaration form must be prepared by the shipper. A detailed description of each and every one of the dangerous goods, the quantities, packaging, classification, and emergency contact information must be listed. The name and address of the shipper and consignee are also to be listed.
If you have to package and transport dangerous goods, you need the assistance of specially trained people not only to meet regulatory requirements, but also to ensure your own safety and that of others.