Transporting Dangerous Goods

What Are Dangerous Goods?

Dangerous goods are defined as items or substances that when transported by land, air or sea, can become hazardous to health and compromise safety, property or the environment. For this reason, the transfer of dangerous goods requires strict adherence to a special set of safety protocols that pertain to the specific product being transported. Even to this day, we still see instances of transport craft suffering the ill effects of these volatile products that have been poorly packaged.

Regulatory Authorities

The transferral of dangerous materials is governed by a number of regulatory authorities. In Australia, this consists of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA). According to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), all cargo ships must undergo port inspections to certify compliance with requirements concerning product packaging, isolation, documentation, and stowage.

Major international guidelines for the safe handling and transportation of dangerous goods include the UN Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods, the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code, among others. These guidelines define how dangerous materials are packed, stored, documented and transported.

What Types of Dangerous Goods Are There?

Dangerous goods are divided in to the following nine categories. Each category is furthered divided into subdivisions. To obtain a more extensive breakdown of each classification, please visit this page.

  1. Explosives
  2. Gases
  3. Flammable Liquids
  4. Flammable Solids
  5. Oxidising Substances
  6. Toxic & Infectious Substances
  7. Radioactive Material
  8. Corrosives
  9. Miscellaneous Dangerous Goods

Ensuring compliance with all of the respective international codes can be a burdensome task. Adding to this is the sometimes problematic issue of sub-class interpretation. (refer to the above link) If you are wishing to have dangerous goods transported, it’s essential that your logistics company is well versed in the transferral of hazardous products.

Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS)

All dangerous freight must be accompanied by a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). The data sheet must clearly indicate the exact nature of the product being transported and provide all necessary guidance for the handling the items. The MSDS must be filled out of by the product manufacturer. It’s this MSDS document that ultimately determines if the cargo is allowed on board the transport craft or not.

The purpose of the MSDS is to supply all transport vessel staff and emergency task forces with the appropriate handling methods and safety guidelines for the items and provide all information on the chemical properties of the materials such as boiling point temperature, melting point, harmful side effects, first aid procedures, required protective apparatus as well as instructions on how to safely contain or clean up the material in the event of a spillage.