Dangerous Goods Shipping: Everything You Need to Know

The classification of dangerous goods applies to items you store or ship that pose a risk to people, property or the environment. Along with requiring logistics expertise, shipping dangerous goods comes with its own set of hazards that pose safety and compliance concerns for companies. These goods must be shipped differently from nonhazardous cargo to ensure authorities can monitor the shipments and verify that the shipper has followed all applicable regulations.

This brief guide explores everything you need to know on how to ship dangerous goods, including the different classes of dangerous goods, the regulations governing their transportation and how drivers can stay safe when moving hazardous items.

Which Industries Ship Dangerous Goods?

A variety of businesses need to ship goods that can be classified as dangerous. Some of these industries are obvious — for example, energy plants that use explosive materials or medical centers that ship biohazards need specialized shipping solutions.

However, the items that qualify as dangerous goods aren’t always obvious. There are nine categories of hazardous goods that pose shipping concerns, and they encompass some unexpected items such as deodorants, paint, perfumes, first-aid kits and the batteries we use in everyday electronics.

What Qualifies as Dangerous Goods?

Dangerous goods are split into nine different categories according to their contents and how they should be stored and handled, though some products can easily fall into more than one class. All dangerous products must have clear markings on their packaging to indicate their classification.

The classes and types of dangerous goods are as follows:

  • Class 1 — Explosives: Explosives are highly combustible goods that should only be handled by trained staff to minimize the chance of accidents. Examples of explosives include fireworks, ammunition and detonators.
  • Class 2 — Flammable gases: This category includes both compressed and liquified gases. Again, there are strict protocols in place for handling gases, as leaks can lead to explosions or health hazards. Examples of these goods include fire extinguishers, natural gas, lighters and aerosols.
  • Class 3 — Flammable liquids: Class 3 represents products that are dangerous if inhaled or ingested, as well as liquids that pose a fire hazard. Alcohol, paints, petrol, acetone and perfumes are common in this category.
  • Class 4 — Flammable solids: Any solid that poses a fire hazard may fall into the Class 4 category. Examples include coal and matches.
  • Class 5 — Oxidizing substances: Oxidizers are substances that readily give off oxygen and can react chemically with other substances, resulting in fires or explosions. Examples include pool chlorine and bleach.
  • Class 6 — Toxic or infectious substances: These substances can pose significant health hazards to humans and animals if touched, inhaled or consumed. Examples include medical waste, biological samples and tear gas.
  • Class 7 — Radioactive material: If present in unsafe amounts, radioactive substances pose severe health risks such as nausea, vomiting, hair loss, radiation burns and even death. Examples of Class 7 goods include certain medical instruments like X-ray equipment.
  • Class 8 — Corrosives: Corrosive materials can cause severe damage when they come into contact with property or living tissue. Examples of corrosives include acids, dyes and fuel cell cartridges.
  • Class 9 — Other: These miscellaneous items present hazards not covered by other classes and include goods like dry ice, lithium-ion batteries and first-aid kits.

Legal Considerations for Shipping Dangerous Goods

There are strict packaging, labeling and handling requirements in place to minimize the hazards involved in transporting dangerous goods, and it is important to know how to ship dangerous materials in compliance with these regulations. Different authorities help regulate the transportation of dangerous goods, including local and national postal services, under policies such as the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) and the Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR).

The following are a few general guidelines for complying with these regulations:

Packing Requirements for Hazardous Items

There are three different packaging groups for dangerous goods — Group I or X in the shipping code is for high-danger goods, Group II or Y represents medium danger, and Group III or Z denotes minor-danger goods. Postal services require that all packages have the following information:

  • The proper shipping name, or PSN, including identification number and technical name if required
  • The shipper’s name and address details
  • The consignee’s name and address (details for the person who will receive the goods)
  • Orientation arrows that show the correct position for storing the package to prevent leaks, damage or other accidents

Documents for Dangerous Material Transport

A lot of planning, expense, and time goes into shipping goods, so ensuring that goods are ready for customs or any other kind of clearance is essential. Companies often need these documents for transporting dangerous goods:

  • Material safety data sheet (MSDS): This data sheet contains the information drivers need on how to handle goods safely during transportation.
  • Dangerous goods declaration (DGD): DGDs detail the class of dangerous goods, identification markings, and types of special packaging and labels.
  • Dangerous goods manifest: This comprehensive document shares all the most important details regarding the nature of the hazardous goods and their transportation and handling requirements.
  • Transport emergency card (TREM card): Drivers and other workers carry TREM cards that contain information on the dangerous goods they are handling, including what actions should be taken in the event of an incident.
  • Container packing certificate: This document contains information on the containers the goods are packaged in, including each container’s ID number.

These documents are vital for regulatory compliance as well as ensuring successful transport. Some items, like biosamples, need to be delivered in a certain time frame to maintain their integrity. Having documents in order becomes crucial for ensuring the appropriate parties have all the details about the shipment.

Safety Precautions for Transporting Dangerous Goods

Protecting delivery drivers with dangerous goods is a top concern for any company. The following are some of the best practices for shipping dangerous goods safely:

  • Have the right vehicles: Your vehicle must be approved for transporting specific types of dangerous goods. It must also be well-maintained and undergo regular inspections.
  • Have the right safety accessories: Having fire extinguishers and other safety accessories, like self-standing warning signs, onboard is essential.
  • Train drivers: Transporting dangerous goods is a specialized job. Drivers must undergo regular training for their own protection as well as that of the goods they are carrying. Companies should also encourage basic workplace vehicle safety.
  • Provide PPE: When applicable, companies should provide drivers with the appropriate PPE, such as vests, gloves, goggles and emergency escape masks.

Secure Timely Shipping Solutions With ExpressIt Delivery

Does your company produce or supply goods that can be classified as hazardous and require expert delivery solutions? At ExpressIT Delivery, we are a women-led company that has been serving our clients with custom B2B delivery solutions for over 38 years. With our expertise, we know how to ship dangerous materials of all classifications in a safe and compliant manner.

We understand that your business is not one-size-fits-all, so we tailor delivery services to what your company needs. We have a team of helpful professionals ready to get behind the wheel, including HIPAA-compliant drivers certified to carry blood, narcotics and other specialized items.

Contact ExpressIt Delivery for a quote today to discuss your shipping needs.