Transporting dangerous goods? Then compliance is key

The transport of dangerous goods is subject to strict regulations, and for good reason. Each dangerous material or substance poses a degree of risk, and it is the shippers responsibility to ensure that all risks are minimised.

Dangerous goods are defined as those that pose a risk to the health and/or safety of people or animals, the environment or property.

Regulatory bodies

Each mode of transport has its own regulatory guide:

Dangerous goods by air - ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation)

Dangerous goods by road - ADR (European Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road)

Dangerous goods by sea - IMDG (International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code)

Shippers commonly refer to the IATA (International Air Transport Association) dangerous goods regulations when shipping via air

Guide formats

Each of the regulatory guides has a similar format in that the main categories are mostly the same, bringing about a level of ease for shippers that send dangerous goods via multiple modes of transport. The structure follows a theme, such as:

1. Applicability
The applicability section covers definitions of dangerous goods, responsibilities of shippers, the requirements for formal training and incident and accident reporting.

2. Limitations
The limitations section covers forbidden and hidden dangerous goods, any reasons for allowing dangerous goods in excepted or limited quantities and, depending on the mode, any specific state or operator variations.

3. Classification
The classification section covers each of the 9 hazard classes and any subsections within them, including any distinctions between different types of dangerous goods, as well as packing groups.

4. Identification
The identification section covers how to identify a substance and therefore providing information to a shipper on how to package and ship. The 'blue pages', as they are referred to in the IATA dangerous goods regulation, provide some of the most important information.

5. Packing
The packing section covers how each specific dangerous material or substance should be packaged and shipped, including any limits or requirements for that mode of transport. The Packaging Instructions, alongside the tables laid out in section 4, are invaluable to a shipper.

6. Packaging Specifications and Performance Tests
The packaging specification and performance test section covers all of the requirements that shippers need to ensure are met when choosing compliant packaging for their dangerous goods. It lists all of the UN packing codes for each approved packaging type, and the requirements for that package.

7. Marking and Labeling
The marking and labeling section covers all aspects of packaging marking, including how to affix hazard labels, over-packing dangerous goods and how to provide important information.

8. Documentation

There are additional sections in each of the regulatory guides but the above eight sections are universal.