A day in the life of a Dangerous Goods (DG) Approver

A day in the life of…..” is a series of posts which covers activities that happens in a typical day in the life of one of the many on shore and off shore personnel in the shipping and freight industry..

In this post, we look at the typical workflow and how “A day in the life of a DG Approver (DG Desk)” progresses..

image for DITLO

Hazardous cargo or dangerous goods are quite commonly shipped around the world, sometimes in large quantities although they are dangerous and specialised in nature..

This is possible only through proper declaration of the goods by the shippers; thorough checking and approval by the DG Desk of the shipping line involved; following of proper protocols and procedures for dangerous cargo packing by the packing warehouse;  and the following of proper protocols and procedures for dangerous cargo movement by the transporters involved..


While the safe movement of DG cargo involves several parties,

  1. It all starts with a DG Request which a customer is required to send to the shipping line for approval of the hazardous goods that they wish to ship..
  2. The shipping line usually sends this request to the DG Desk of the shipping line (usually centralised within the shipping line’s network) where a DG Approver will receive this DG Request..
  3. The DG Approver will verify the DG cargo details against the IMDG Code, which highlights the rules for acceptance of the DG cargo at the various ports – whether it is the final destination of the cargo or the transhipment ports along the route to the final destination..
  4. For this verification process to be completed effectively and quickly, ALL details in the DG Request must be filled, otherwise it will just be sent back to the shipper to fill up and this will waste everyone’s time..
  5. If he/she is satisfied with the verification, then the request is further passed onto the ship, transit ports and transhipment ports (as required)..
  6. The reason that the transit and transhipment ports also require to approve this DG cargo request is that some ports may not allow the passage of certain goods through their ports or off loading/loading at their ports for safety and/or other concerns..
  7. If the shipping line is part of a VSA and the intended ship is not operated by the them, then the DG Request is sent to the DG Approval desk of the carrier operating the ship..
  8. For certain commodities, vessels and routes, the DG Approver might also check the acceptance with the stowage planners..
  9. The DG Approver will record each acceptance or rejection received ( from ports, vessel partners, transit ports and stowage planners)..
  10. Once an acceptance is received from all of the above, the DG Approver may still in some cases require the approval of a DG manager of the shipping line who will then ultimately approve if the DG cargo can be accepted for booking..
  11. This approval or rejection is sent to the booking desk who will in turn advise the client of the acceptance or rejection..
  12. Only after this approval is received, the shipping line will confirm the booking and release empty container to the shipper for packing..
flow map of DG
Image from IMDG Code Compliance Centre

As you may imagine, given the various time zones around the world and regional desks responsible for various trade routes and services (Example Asia DG desk in Singapore or Hong Kong, Europe DG Desk in London, Hamburg or Marseille, America DG desk in New York or Charleston), this approval may take a bit of time..

Apart from the time differences, the recent spate of maritime disasters and incidents on land purportedly due to improper or misdeclaration of hazardous cargoes also has a bit of an adverse effect in the turn around time of DG acceptance resulting in the DG Approver also having to check

  • Type of packaging ( drums, boxes, bags, jerrycan, IBCs, tanks, cylinders, MEGCs)
  • Material of packaging ( Plastics, Steel, Aluminium, Wooden, etc)
  • Quantity per package and how much is allowed per ship
  • Some lines look into inner packing details too ( though not mandatory by IMDG Code on declaration)
  • Type of container ( Example: Reefer for flammable liquids, flashpoint, reefer setting, temperature controlled cargo control and emergency temperatures)
what is dangerous goods
Image source : https://qz.com/478605/pick-your-poison-the-firm-behind-huge-explosions-in-tianjin-handles-all-manner-of-hazardous-chemicals/

If for any reason, the cargo is short shipped from the originally planned vessel, the above process must be followed for the alternate ship as well because each ship is different in terms of its size, capacity, stowage plan, cargo mix, segregation, design, route etc..

Depending on all these variables, it may be easier to get the approval or more difficult.. Even though many of these verifications are digital these days, digitalisation still has some pitfalls which needs close monitoring to avoid any incidents..

So the next time you meet or come across a DG Approver give him/her a hug for all the diligent and hard work they do in order to maintain the IMO regulations and ensuring the safety and security of the seafarers and all the cargo on board the ship..

*** End of Article ***

6 thoughts on “A day in the life of a Dangerous Goods (DG) Approver”

  1. I am regular reader.

    Your article are very helpful,it give a lot of practical knowledge.

    My suggestion is that “Why dont you make mobile application of this website.”?

    It will be more easy to assess website.

    Reply
  2. I think that this is a very useful post. Thanks Hariesh. I look forward to more posts of the various roles of people in the freight and shipping industry.

    Edwin

    Reply

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