Transporting hazardous goods (HAZMAT) requires one of the most complicated processes in the freight industry. The shipping process itself is heavily regulated, hard to navigate, and expensive. Freight companies want to protect themselves as much as they can, so it only makes sense that there are many set requirements.
It’s important for shippers to follow the dangerous goods guidelines perfectly. Any deviation from instructions can be considered to be a violation, and shipping companies can, and will reject your shipment. Then, the whole procedure has to be started all over again. It’s crucial to do it right the first time, and follow the regulations given by the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR), which are set by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT).
Here are a few resources that can help you along the process of transporting hazardous goods. Following dangerous goods shipping regulations can be work, but it is important that shippers stick to the guidelines.
Material Safety Data Sheet (SDS)
- Use this sheet to determine the classification of your goods! The information can be found in the transportation information section. The sheet itself can be provided by the manufacturer of your cargo.
Hazardous Materials Table (ICAO TI)
- The Hazardous Materials Table is a guide that will explain the authorized quantities, required labels, and how to package hazardous goods. It also provides basic descriptions of hazardous materials, its identification number, the classification, and the proper shipping name it needs to be labeled with when transporting hazardous goods.
- Depending on the quantities, corresponding packaging requirements, and packing group, shippers have to follow different package closure instructions. All the information will be in the instructions for UN-Specification Packaging. You may need extra materials, like tape, zip ties, polybags, etc. to meet the particular dangerous goods’ guidelines.
Shipper’s Declaration for Dangerous Goods
- The Shipper’s Declaration for Dangerous Goods form informs the carrier of how they should handle the package during transit. It needs to be filled in correctly, or shippers may incur fines or have their entire shipment delayed. It should include basic information like shipper and consignee names, any emergency contact information, all the accurate details of the package itself, and additional handling instructions.
The most important thing to remember while transporting hazardous goods is that the shipper is responsible for everything! From classifying, packaging, marking, all the way to explicitly labeling the boxes that hold the hazardous goods, the shipper has to completely follow the dangerous goods guidelines. The proper shipping name, shipper and consignee names, and addresses are some of the information that needs to be clearly marked on the label.
Also remember that some carriers have specific requirements for their hazardous goods, so double check!! Each shipping carrier accepts different dangerous goods. For example, some carriers only accept lithium ion batteries and nothing else. To find out more information, check the Material Safety Data Sheet.
This is also where UN-Specification Packaging comes into the picture. Depending on the carrier, you may need to follow specific guidelines for shipping dangerous goods, and most importantly, how to package the shipment properly. The packaging must be able to pass several tests to demonstrate that it is secure enough to keep the dangerous goods safe. It needs to stand the shocks, loadings, and pressure changes that may occur during transportation.
At the end of it all, don’t forget to fill out the Shipper’s Declaration for Dangerous Goods. It is crucial that you keep the file for at least two years after transporting hazardous goods. And three years if you were shipping hazardous waste. Your files need to be accessible and available upon request for an authorized official of a Federal, State, or local government agency.