How To Manage The Transportation Of Dangerous Goods

Nov 8, 2023 | Blog, Pinnacle Services, Trucking Info

Safety. For drivers and freight. For the public and the environment. This is the core concern when it comes to the transportation of dangerous goods.

Not all freight management companies are certified for dangerous goods (DG) shipping. And for a good reason. 

DG transport and handling is a demanding process. Every little detail is regulated and inspected thoroughly to ensure safety and security.

If you are dealing with DG transport or are just starting in the industry, here are a few things to consider.

Let’s begin with the basics.

Transportation of Dangerous Goods (TDG) meaning

Dangerous goods, often called hazardous materials or HAZMAT, include products that may present risks to human health or the environment. Especially if they are not handled properly. 

In every country, the transport of dangerous goods follows a set of strict regulations aiming to increase safety. 

These shipping regulations offer a firm legal framework for handling, warehousing, receiving, and transporting freight.

Everyone involved in hazmat shipping is obliged to have adequate training and specialized certifications. They include topics such as dangerous goods identification and handling, emergency procedures, and risk prevention measures.

Not all hazardous materials share the same level of danger. An international classification system separates hazmat into different categories.

What Are The 9 Dangerous Goods Classes?

According to the United Nations, these are the nine hazard classes of dangerous goods, which are fully regulated items:

  1. Explosives
  2. Gases
  3. Flammable liquid and combustible liquid
  4. Flammable solid, spontaneously combustible, and dangerous when wet
  5. Oxidizer and organic peroxide
  6. Poison (toxic) and poison inhalation hazard
  7. Radioactive 
  8. Corrosive
  9. Miscellaneous, ie. anything not applicable to any of the previous classifications enumerated.

Classes 1 to 5 also have subdivisions. Each has its own chemical and physical properties and must be handled according to specific compliance practices.

Hazmat shippers are well aware of details and complications. Still, the safe transportation of dangerous goods is a non-stop learning and testing process. 

Here are some tips for safe hazmat transport.

5 tips to deal with the transportation of dangerous goods

The transportation of dangerous goods is a prominent market. According to PHMSA, hazmat shipments account for 12% of all freight tonnage shipping within the U.S. This translates into 3.3 billion tons and $1.9 trillion.

The figures are impressive but also are risks.

When shipping hazardous materials, you must ensure that no damage is caused to the people, environment, and merchandise itself. On top of that, you need to maintain cost-effective and timely deliveries. 

Sounds complicated?

Read our tips for managing the transportation of dangerous materials:

1. Hire certified employees (and keep on training)

It is said that “everyone is responsible for workplace safety.” True, but in the case of DG transport, the law holds shipping companies and their key personnel accountable for safety.

As a result, shippers need to make sure their employees have legal certifications. They also need to see that every staff member has adequate experience. In many cases, new employees need to work under the supervision of an experienced person for quite some time.

Drivers, in particular, are required to have updated hazmat certificates or endorsements to be able to:

  • Identify dangerous goods
  • Interpret labels, badges, and transport documents
  • Recognize and understand risks and precautions
  • Prevent or properly respond to emergency situations

But you shouldn’t just rely on certifications. Conducting regular safety compliance audits and training within your company ensures the highest level of safety and readiness. 

2. Classify and handle dangerous goods appropriately 

According to the law, it is the shipper (or consignor) who determines if a product falls under dangerous goods and its hazmat classification.

The shipper can use prior information from the manufacturer or a previous consignor. Still, the legal proof of classification is their liability.

As a result, you need to make an assessment analysis and determine how each product should be handled and who has adequate training to do so.

3. Pack hazmat accordingly

Each type of hazmat needs its proper packaging. The law regulates packing specifications for each class of dangerous goods:

• Packing group 1 is the most protective type of packing. It is required for materials with the highest level of danger. Certain combinations of hazmat types are not allowed on the same trailer or vehicle. This is crucial for LTL shipments.

• Packing group 2 applies to medium-danger materials that need less protective packing.

• Packing group 3 is for the least dangerous goods, which need the smallest packaging protection out of the 3 groups.

No matter what the group type is, all packaging needs to be clearly labeled.

4. Use the right labeling

Dangerous goods regulations incorporate a universal labeling system based on symbols. 

Hazmat labels illustrate material classification(s) and hazardous property (or properties). Every detail should be clearly marked.

Why are hazmat labels important?

Hazmat labels offer special handling instructions. They facilitate staff to communicate hazards easily, and help carriers decide where to place packages. On top of it, they pass important information on to emergency responders.

Hazard labels are securely fixed (or printed) at specific spots on each package. They must be clearly visible at all times. 

For extra safety, hazmat information needs to be affixed on bigger placards, which are in turn placed on all containers and vehicles.

Again, it is the responsibility of the shippers to check and confirm that labeling information is correct and in accordance with the transportation documents.

So, you have done your best. You have packed your goods well and followed all safety regulations. But unfortunately, there are cases where accident prevention is out of your hands.

And all you can do is be prepared in case it happens.

5. Develop a risk management strategy

Freight management involves strategies and action plans to effectively handle emergency situations, aiming for the least damage.

Training is again the key here. In fact, more than 85% of hazardous material transportation accidents happen due to human error.

For carriers to improve safety and emergency response, here are a few good practices:

  • Keep on checking your CSA scores and immediately deal with any drawbacks.
  • Conduct internal safety drills. This will get everyone better prepared to handle emergencies in real life.
  • Make pre-trip inspections a requirement, even if it is not yet required by law. Via pre-trip inspections, drivers can check for themselves that everything is working well and that cargo is placed in a suitable way.
  • Promote collaboration between departments. In this way, employees have the chance to exchange valuable information, such as maintenance issues that would affect safety or compliance.

Professional DG shipping ensures the highest level of accident prevention.

Hazmat Transport with Pinnacle Trucking

At Pinnacle, we are certified carriers of hazardous freight shipments. All our drivers are Hazmat Endorsed, while all FTL and LTL shipments are strictly adhered to FMCSA regulations. Our Safety and Compliance Department can well advise you on current regulations regarding dangerous goods shipping, packaging, and handling. Call us today.

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