Shipping hazardous materials requires following specific procedures to identify the contents and avoid accidents properly. Knowing how to send those items correctly is also essential for them to get there safely and in good condition. Thus, having the appropriate hazardous materials knowledge helps a company’s bottom line. Here are some straightforward steps for supply chain workers to know before they start sending dangerous goods.
Obtain the Safety Data Sheet
Products with potentially harmful properties come with a safety data sheet (SDS). People should consider that this document is the first point of reference when determining if the goods they need to ship qualify as dangerous. The safety data sheet gives specific information about various chemicals, including their transportation, handling and storage needs. It also discusses first aid for people who accidentally come in contact with the substance.
One particular complication is different organizations have varying criteria for categorizing hazardous goods. For example, the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) has a nine-category system, while the National Fire Protection Association uses 14 categories. Additionally, some of those large groups have subcategories within them.
However, the transportation information section of an SDS will mention whether a product is hazardous. People should initially try to obtain the SDS from a manufacturer. However, some organizations also maintain internal SDS databases, especially if people there frequently work with chemicals.
Designate the Hazardous Materials Personnel
People at companies intending to ship hazardous goods must select individuals with the necessary training. There are also specific training requirements associated with them.
For example, someone working as a hazardous materials employee regarding goods traveling by air domestically must renew their training every three years. The timeframe is two years for international air travel.
Select the Right Packaging Material
A product’s packaging is integral to people’s opinion of it. A luxury goods brand may put items in boxes enhanced with foil panels, magnets or special finishes. However, if the product is more basic, there’s probably not such a need for aesthetically pleasing material and upscale features. Instead, the priority might be that the packaging provides adequate protection for the goods in transit.
Choosing the packaging for dangerous items often brings some complications. As mentioned earlier, the DOT has nine categories of hazardous goods. Moreover, many company representatives opt to have relevant products shipped in DOT-approved containers. When these vessels transport liquids or solids, they receive a code with five or six sections, collectively stating the type and quantity of goods they can hold.
The first part of the code identifies the container’s material and type. There’s also a part specifying if people can open it with a latch or require special tools to get access. The second section of the code says whether the container can hold high, medium or low-hazard contents and the maximum weight of the container in kilograms.
Later sections of the code describe whether it’s a container intended for liquids or solids. They also include the country, year of production and the manufacturer’s code. Together, these details tell people about the container’s use and other things they must know to transport it safely. They’re essential for shipping hazardous materials with few or no adverse consequences.
Get the Correct Hazard Declarations
Shipping hazardous materials also requires using the correct methods to declare them dangerous. That usually means affixing labels or applying markings, plus ensuring the appropriate documents travel with the items.
The language used also varies depending on what risks the product poses. Use “Danger” when it’s something corrosive, extremely flammable or highly toxic. When items are highly toxic, they must include both “Poison” and “Danger” as hazard declarations. However, “Caution” or “Warning” is the appropriate label messaging for all other dangerous goods.
It’s also necessary to specify any particulars about the product. Supply chain professionals can do that by using phrases such as “Harmful If Swallowed” or “Causes Burns” on the packaging. Hazard declarations extend to how people should receive first aid after accidental exposure and what measures they should take to protect themselves.
Finally, the accompanying paperwork must go on the box in a clearly visible and unobstructed place. People should keep the shipper’s declaration on file for two years. It’s probably most convenient for companies to have that paperwork in digital and physical formats. Plus, they may wish to have all those documents in one place for easy reference.
Consider Working With a Partner When Shipping Hazardous Materials
As this overview shows, shipping hazardous materials is not necessarily complicated. However, it involves precise steps people must follow to have successful outcomes. Moreover, individuals must have accurate details about what they want to send so they do not mistakenly misclassify the goods and make an error relatively early in the process.
People new to sending dangerous items or who wish to get further clarification should consider working with a company or individual with years of experience and relevant training in this area. Then, they’ll be able to get their questions answered and feel confident about getting the best and most appropriate advice.
About the author
Emily Newton is the Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized Magazine. She has over four years experience covering stories about warehousing, logistics and distribution