Complete Guide to Shipping and Transporting Dangerous Goods
When shipping and transporting dangerous goods freight, there are some items that are considered high risk and are regulated by the Australian Government and also must conform to international Dangerous Goods Standards. Sending Dangerous Goods can be classified as sending paint, flammable liquids, poisonous gases, perfumes, batteries, explosives and even nail polish. If you plan on shipping any of these Dangerous Goods items, you must follow these guidelines in order to do so safely.
Dangerous goods are especially hazardous on confined spaces such as shipping containers and aircraft cargo holds. So when preparing to transport Dangerous Goods, no matter which mode of transport chosen, extra care and attention must be paid and follow the Dangerous Goods guidelines at all times.
Before we continue, the transport of goods classed as Dangerous Goods is administered by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Examples of dangerous goods
- aerosols and sprays
- paint and oil
- commercial explosives
- fireworks, ammunition
- petrol and oily rags
- lighter fluid, matches, paint thinner, fire lighters
- liquefied gases
- adhesives and glue
- lithium batteries (phones, laptops, eBikes)
Learn more about shipping Lithium Batteries on the IATA website.
- flares and safety devices
- magnetized materials
- infections substances (medical samples)
- noxious or irritating substances
- radioactive materials
- petrol engines
- dry ice
- caustic soda
Identifying Dangerous Goods.
Before deciding on shipping your Dangerous Goods, whether you’re importing or exporting, there are certain identifying characteristics of dangerous goods that make them easy to spot. For example, many dangerous goods can be corrosive or flammable and can even ignite when the space they inhabit becomes hot or there is a lot of friction created during transportation. The goods being shipped may also be poisonous or highly explosive such as bullets.
If you believe your shipment may contain a substance with any of these characteristics, it is important to exercise caution and contact a Dangerous Goods Certified Professional. if you are unsure of how to properly classify the items to be shipped, do not prepare them for transportation until they have been inspected and approved for transit.
Dangerous goods pose a serious risk when being transported by air, because as you would be aware, freight is carried in the underbelly of the aircraft and is susceptible to a lot of movement as the aircraft flies through turbulent air along its journey.
Technology devices such as laptops, radio’s, toys containing batteries or corrosive material could create a small spark due to turbulence, or even an awkward landing.
The most common problems experienced with dangerous goods in-transit include:
- Packages leaking or spilling
- Batteries sparking or catching fire
- Devices exploding
In order to avoid these critical issues, it is important to follow all dangerous goods regulations and guidelines. This includes properly packaging and labeling your shipment, as well as declaring all dangerous goods on the correct paperwork.
How dangerous goods should be stored and handled?
Example is if a pallet of dangerous goods is not properly secured, it could leak or spill at any time. This could cause a fire or explosion hazard on board an aircraft, ship or truck.
Another example is if the freight is not labeled correctly, the package(s) could be opened by someone who does not know what they are doing, and become exposed to the contents inside. When shipping goods with batteries, it is common practise to drain the batteries to as low as 30% of the charge – or even lower, depending on the freight carrier and mode of transport. Although there are international standards for the transportation of Dangerous Goods, most carriers add another level of tolerance just to be on the safe side.
Packages, boxes, cartons and freight stacked on pallets must also be clearly visible with the Dangerous Goods labels. The label should include the name of the dangerous good, the classification code, the hazard it poses, and the proper precautions for handling it.
If the shipment label contains a UN number, it’s more than probable that the contents are classed as Dangerous Goods.
If you’re confused or unsure that the shipment you want to send or receive is dangerous or not, ask the manufacturer or supplier for a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). If it contains a UN number, it’s dangerous goods.
Dangerous Goods Checklist.
- Know the regulations
It’s vital you follow the regulations before shipping anything classified as Dangerous Goods (DG). These regulations include details on the types of packaging, documentation and labelling you need in order to ship dangerous goods. Rules can vary depending on the mode of transport (air, sea, road, rail).
- Get professional advice
When shipping Dangerous Goods, you must understand the regulations and requirements. Failure to do so, could result in substantial fines and sanctions placed on future shipments. Alternatively, you can hire a trained Dangerous Goods specialist to inspect, prepare and approve the shipment on your behalf.
- Classify and declare your shipment correctly
You, as the shipper are responsible for ensuring that the shipping of Dangerous Goods must be clearly identifiable. The items must be packed and labelled with the correct documentation for the countries/territories of origin. If you’re unsure, always check with the manufacturer or supplier of your goods to discover the correct classification of your dangerous goods. Refer to a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for precise clarification.
- Pack your shipment properly
All shipments classified as Dangerous Goods must display clear labels and contain the United Nations (UN) specification markings. These markings indicate that the packaging meets the standard needed to transport dangerous goods. See the current IATA DG Regulations to find out if your shipment requires them.
As a shipper, you also need to ensure that they have the correct documentation before shipping, such as:
Airway Bill: Automated Airway Bills can be created within the One World Courier website portal.
Shipper’s Declaration: A printed Shipper’s Declaration for the majority of Dangerous Goods shipments must be contained and accessible, certifying the goods have been packed, labelled and declared according to the IATA dangerous goods regulations.
Customs Documentation: For any shipment sent to or from a non-European destination, customs documentation is also required
One World Courier has it’s very own Dangerous Goods specialist who can assist with all of the above. The last thing you needs to worry about is whether or not your shipment(s) will be safe and compliant. So please don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions or concerns about shipping Dangerous Goods.
At One World Courier we’re always happy to help.