Transporting hazardous substances: What you need to know
From understanding the regulations to choosing the right supplier, we run through what you need to know when transporting dangerous goods.
If you export products that are classed as hazardous, it’s important that you know how to transport them safely. This area of business is governed by a range of national and international legislation and can sometimes seem like a bit of a minefield to the uninitiated.
The term ‘dangerous goods’ covers a wide range of different products, and these are sorted into nine main classifications
. Before transporting your products you will need to make sure that they are classified correctly. This will ensure that everyone in the supply chain knows and understands what the hazard is, and will be of invaluable help to the emergency services should the worst happen and an accident occur.
One of the key things you need to consider when transporting dangerous items is which transportation method to use. Each transportation method, whether you use sea, air, road or rail, offers its own advantages and disadvantages, but what’s important to know is that the regulations for transporting dangerous goods vary depending on how the products are transported.
The transportation of dangerous goods by road is governed by the European Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road
(ADR), which sets out specific tank, vehicle and operational requirements, as well as regulations around labelling, packaging, classification and certification. Rail transport is governed by Appendix C of the Convention Covering International Carriage by Rail - International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Rail, transport by sea is covered by the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) code, and air carriers have to comply with International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) Technical Instructions.
Choosing your supplier
Whichever transportation method you go with, it’s vital to choose the right supplier. Look out for a well-respected company that is ISO certified and has the experience, expertise and equipment to meet the needs of your products. Most hazardous goods need to be stored in a particular environment, so in many cases, using temperature controlled transport
is key to ensuring that your products arrive safely and in optimum condition. Any company that regularly transports dangerous goods should also have a Dangerous Goods Safety Adviser (DGSA) who can provide specialist safety advice, so make sure this is something your supplier is compliant with.
Packaging and labelling
As well as transport-specific regulations, there is also a number of general labelling regulations that you need to abide by.
Firstly, you need to ensure that any dangerous products are labelled with the appropriate hazard symbols, warnings and safety advice. The products should also include instructions for use (supplied by the manufacturer), which can either be printed on the label or supplied on a supplementary information leaflet. If the product will be used in the workplace, the supplier must provide material safety data sheets. Safety labelling regulations can vary somewhat between countries, so before organising to transport your goods, be sure to familiarise yourself with the safety requirements of the end destination.
The packaging of hazardous goods is also subject to a number of strict requirements. Most importantly it needs to be suitable for the product it’s carrying, and has to be certified by a national competent authority. The packaging also needs to meet UN specification standards and should be able to stand up to a range of stress tests, including being dropped, being stacked and being subjected to pressure.
Failure to follow the rules and regulations for the transportation of dangerous goods can have significant consequences. Not only could you cause serious harm to workers, the general public, and the environment, you could also find yourself on the wrong end of a large fine or even, in serious cases, a prison sentence - not to mention the financial hit your business could take if your products are damaged or destroyed en route to their destination.
Given the potential damage non-compliance could cause, paying close attention to the transportation rules and regulations really is a no-brainer. By putting in the groundwork you can ensure that your products are transported safely and effectively, providing protection for the public and your business.