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Tips for Safe and Effective Shipping of Potentially Hazardous Materials

hazardous goodsMany business owners jump straight into nationwide and international shipments — even with potentially hazardous goods.

Yet, with your venture being liable if things go wrong, it’s necessary to continually look for ways to ensure packages arrive at their destination safely and effectively.

Here are some tips you can follow over the coming months to help you with this.

Get Clear on What Qualifies as Dangerous Goods

For starters, get clear on exactly what types of things qualify as dangerous goods, so you and your staff know what needs to be handled and shipped more carefully.

Dangerous or hazardous goods are items or materials with some inherent properties which, if not controlled in the right way, may present a potential hazard. This hazard could affect any type of living organism and/or the safety of the environment.

Dangerous goods can come in a variety of forms, including liquids, solids or gases. They may be cold or hot and odorless or pungent. The negative effects they have can be fatal or minimal and everything in between.

Dangerous goods are classified according to various categories and can be identified according to whether or not they’re poisonous, flammable, explosive or have the capacity to present some other type of hazard.

There are many different types of risks and therefore various regulations surrounding the transportation of items in different categories.

Items don’t have to appear dangerous to be classified as potentially hazardous, either. For example, even things like table tennis balls, paint, nail polish and perfumes usually make the dangerous goods lists.

Furthermore, remember that different countries have different rules about hazardous materials. This means you need to find out about the regulations at the destination where you’re shipping items. Just because something may not be seen as dangerous in your part of the world doesn’t mean that it will be considered the same elsewhere.


Use Proper Packaging

As you’d imagine, once you know which items are considered hazardous, you can take steps to package them in a way that protects them during transport and ensures they can’t damage any people, creatures or the environment.

The containers you use for dangerous goods must be appropriate based on the items inside and have secure closures and provide adequate cushioning. Use absorbent materials to help contain leakage, as you need to be sure goods cannot endanger anyone along the way.

This includes your staff members who handle the items, shipping and other transportation crew, customs officials, recipients etc.


Train the Staff who Handle Goods in Your Company

To increase the likelihood that dangerous goods will be effectively shipped by your company, properly train the staff who handle such goods.

Anyone handling hazardous materials at any step of the way should know what specific tasks they have to complete and how their responsibilities relate to their colleagues.

Make employees completely aware of how compliance regulations affect your company as well as any other organizations that will be interacted with as packages change hands. They should also be clear on the consequences of non-compliance.

It helps, too, utilize impact indicators in your business. These are tools that show handlers of packages that dangerous materials are inside and that packages must be handled with care for the sake of everyone’s safety. Train your team about what each indicator means and what they need to do to stay safe and help the company be compliant.


hazardous goodsPut Detailed Processes in Place

To ensure dangerous items are handled and packaged properly each time, put detailed processes in place for people to follow.

This will reduce the risks of things going wrong. For example, all dangerous goods must be labeled appropriately.

Staff members or external suppliers need to be instructed how to label packages in the right way and to remove any unrelated, old labels which will convey the wrong idea about the contents.

You should have checks and balances in place, so someone is always positive documentation is complete and accurate.

This will reduce the chances that the wrong labels get put on the wrong parcels. Plus, you should take advantage of quality tracking software. Use tech products designed to track shipments and document the care taken to ensure compliance.


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  1. An absolutely vital read inclusive of the associated links – thank you once again Hariesh for providing this valuable information. I love your blogs xx Kate


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