Shipping dangerous goods requires careful planning and execution to ensure the safety of everyone involved in the transportation process. Dangerous goods can include explosives, flammable liquids, gases, toxic substances, and other hazardous materials that can pose a threat to human health and the environment. Independent freight forwarders who are into shipping dangerous goods should be extremely cautious and attentive to the details of the entire shipping process. Moreover, the ever-changing procedures and documentation related to hazardous cargo have further complicated the shipping process of these shipments. Additionally, dangerous goods are subjected to strict customs and regulatory requirements where even the slightest error in packing and documentation could result in the rejection of the cargo by the customs authorities.
In today’s articles, we have published a few guidelines for shipping dangerous goods that will help freight forwarding companies to ensure that the items are shipped safely and in compliance with all relevant regulations and guidelines.
Guidelines for independent freight forwarders before shipping dangerous goods
Pay attention to packaging
As an independent freight forwarder, before shipping dangerous goods, you need to ensure that they are properly packaged, labelled, and marked. The packaging should be designed to withstand the conditions of transportation and prevent leaks or spills. The labels and markings should clearly identify the contents of the package and indicate any hazards.
The handlers at the ports and airports thoroughly check the dangerous cargo for leaks, breakages, or any other factors that could compromise the integrity of the package. Keep in mind that even the smallest mistake in packaging dangerous goods could result in potential disasters. Therefore, freight forwarding companies need to follow global standards and protocols for moving dangerous goods. Moreover, the independent freight forwarder should be aware of the national transportation packaging guidelines for the domestic movement of DG. Moving hazardous shipments to foreign territories involves compliance with the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code. Ignoring this could result in hefty penalties for the distributor. Holding back on packaging expenses with regard to dangerous goods should be avoided at all costs as it often results in additional expenses, damages, penalties, and accidents.
Know your dangerous goods
The first step in shipping dangerous goods is to determine whether the goods you are shipping fall under the classification of dangerous goods. You need to consult the relevant regulations to determine the classification of the goods. Once you have determined that the goods you are shipping are classified as dangerous, you need to identify the appropriate shipping method. The shipping method will depend on the classification of the goods, their quantity, and their destination. For example, some dangerous goods may require air transportation, while others may require ground transportation. The rules for moving dangerous goods can differ according to the mode of shipment. This is why, freight forwarding companies need to have a solid knowledge of the shipping guidelines for each particular mode of transportation.
Choose the right carrier
When shipping dangerous goods, it is important to choose a carrier that is certified to handle such goods. The carrier should have the necessary permits and licenses to transport dangerous goods safely. You can check the carrier’s certification with the relevant regulatory authority.
Provide training for personnel
Logistics companies involved in the transportation of dangerous goods should properly train their workers on how to handle such goods safely. The training should cover topics such as packaging and labelling requirements, emergency procedures, and the proper use of personal protective equipment. Training the handlers is the most important factor that can prevent disasters from happening. The person in charge of handling the cargo should ideally obtain a TDG (Training in Dangerous Goods) certificate. This certification signifies that the person has knowledge and experience of all topics related to hazardous goods and has undergone extensive training regarding the movement of such goods.
The storage of toxic materials is yet another area that requires special attention. Companies that specialize in moving DG should ensure that the storage area comes with warning signs. Additionally, the storage area should not have any obstructions, and should only be accessible to trained and authorized personnel. Before storing DG, a proper inspection of all the incoming containers is required. This should be done to ensure that all the boxes are intact and labeled.
Take special care in labelling the shipment
Proper labelling is a statutory requirement when it comes to moving dangerous goods. It is the labelling which indicates the dangerous nature of the shipment and carries relevant information about the right way of handling it. For this reason, the labelling should be done in a way that immediately identifies the cargo and communicates the kind of hazard it entails.
The label should appear on the packaging and never on a corner of the package when it folds. Apart from the label, freight forwarding companies also need to place additional identifiers such as placards and markings. The placards are larger than the label and are often stuck on vehicles, containers, and cylinders. The markings that are pasted on the outer packaging come with the weight, precautions, emergency response guidelines, etc.
Another important component of the label is the UN identification number that allows for easy segregation of the cargo. This number should ideally be placed close to the label identifying the shipment. There is a different class of orientation labels for dangerous liquid shipments since they involve another kind of handling. The UN certification label is a crucial component of the packaging of DG. This label proves that the shipment has met all the standards set by the UN.
Complete the necessary documentation
When shipping dangerous goods, independent freight forwarders need to complete the necessary documentation, including a shipping manifest, a bill of lading, and any other required documents. The documentation should accurately describe the contents of the package, their quantity, and their classification. The shipping of dangerous goods involves several documents such as DG Request, Material Safety Data Sheet, DG packing list and declaration, DG Manifest and many more depending on the kind of cargo you’re shipping, the country where you are shipping and the mode of transportation. Each class of dangerous goods poses a particular hazard, necessitates particular handling requirements and requires unique documentation. The basic information that you need to incorporate in the documentation is the PSN and the UN Number, the Hazard Class, the name and address of the consignee, the quantity and weight of the cargo, the number of containers/cartons/cylinders, and the kind of packaging.
Stay updated with the latest regulations and guidelines
When shipping dangerous goods, you need to follow all relevant regulations and guidelines. These regulations may vary depending on the classification of the goods and their destination. It is important to stay up-to-date with any changes to these regulations.
Take precautions during transportation
During transportation, it is important for independent freight forwarders to take precautions to ensure the safety of the goods and those involved in the transportation process. This may include securing the packages, monitoring the temperature and pressure of the containers, and having emergency response plans in place. During transportation, it is important to monitor the shipment to ensure that it arrives safely at its destination. This may include tracking the shipment and communicating with the carrier to ensure that there are no issues.
Have emergency response plans in place
In the event of an accident or emergency during transportation, it is important to have emergency response plans in place. These plans should outline the steps to be taken in the event of a spill or release of dangerous goods, as well as how to respond to injuries or other emergencies.