There are numerous hazardous materials that are extensively used on a daily basis and these include items such as paints and batteries as well as chemicals that special handling during transportation.
As you would expect, there are plenty of regulations and handling procedures that need to be followed when you make plans to ship these items via ground, rail, air, or sea.
If your business is going to be handling and shipping products that fall into a category that requires you to take extra care or implement special precautions you will need to understand your packaging options for hazardous materials as well as knowing what transportation regulations that need to be observed.
Know the essentials
Every country will have its own set of rules and regulations when it comes to the handling and transportation of hazardous materials and there will also be some international standards that tend to be applied across many different regions.
If you are shipping items domestically across the United States there is one main Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) to be aware of. Title 49 of this code is what you need to pay particular attention to as it outlines the specific rules and regulations for moving all forms of hazardous materials across the country.
CFR 49 comprises nine key sections and this includes a comprehensive list and description of hazardous materials by class, defining whether a specific material is considered flammable, poisonous, or poses any other sort of threat to health and the environment.
The code will also cover safety aspects such as labeling and the documentation needed to accompany the hazardous material on its journey.
The fundamental point to be aware of is that there are specific rules attached to each type of hazardous material and you are expected to bear the responsibility of preparing these materials for transportation in accordance with what CFR 49 dictates.
Make sure everyone is on board with safety awareness training
The safe handling and transportation of hazardous items is the responsibility of the business arranging and undertaking that task so it is very important that there is a culture of safety awareness and compliance throughout the company.
A solid step in this direction would be to ensure that any employee who will play some part in the packing and shipping process is fully trained and certified in 49 CFR.
This is particularly relevant if your business is defined as a Hazmat Employer, which covers any business that makes, maintains, handles, or ships hazardous materials.
Keep a comprehensive training record and arrange updated courses on a periodic basis so that every employee is kept up to speed with any changes in the regulations.
Get your packaging and labeling sorted
Fabricating or preparing a hazardous material is just one aspect of the process where you need to be compliant.
Once you have determined how to achieve a suitable packaging solution for the item in question so that it remains safe during movement, you will also have to decide what mode of transportation you are going to be using.
This is highly relevant as it can often have a direct bearing on the packaging you need to use and it will also be an influential factor when it comes to applying the right labeling and producing the correct documentation.
Your top priority is to take steps to keep the contents safe and protect anyone in the logistics chain who may come into contact with the consignment.
You may need to use a number of inner packaging layers and it may also be the case that you have to use absorbents as a precautionary measure.
All hazardous materials have to be treated with care and in compliance with regulations but some categories require an even greater degree of diligence.
Transporting chemicals should be considered one of these higher-risk categories that warrant a robust set of safety procedures to be followed from start to finish.
Anyone tasked with transporting hazardous materials has to have completed hazard awareness and safety training.
Every container must be clearly labeled with clear and concise details of the contents.
Transporting items by air
You will find that there is an internationally agreed set of provisions and protocols in place relating to the movement of dangerous and hazardous materials and substances by air.
A good starting point would be to familiarize yourself with the Dangerous Goods Regulations published by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
As you would expect, safety training and handling knowledge is not optional it is mandatory.
Although the basic framework of these international air safety regulations tends to be applied across many different borders there are always going to be some local variations which is why you should check with individual airlines and countries where your items are being shipped to.
Your responsibilities when it comes to labeling and marking hazardous goods
As already outlined, correct labeling is essential, but it is worth expanding on this to outline what your specific responsibilities are if your business is a supplier of hazardous or dangerous goods.
Chemicals need to be packaged with the correct recognized hazard symbol clearly visible and a range of internationally recognized danger symbols should be used so that anyone handling the goods will immediately understand what they are dealing with and comprehend the nature of the hazard these goods present if exposed to them.
Safety labeling requirements will vary between countries so it is your responsibility to verify the specific regulations and safety protocols you need to observe for each country you are shipping to.
Your primary goal as a responsible business should be to take every available precaution and meet all safety and legal compliance requirements at every step of the way from production to shipping.
Safety training for all employees is an essential part of that safety-first culture and calling on external resources for guidance with regard to packaging solutions, for example, can also prove to be a smart move in your quest to make sure everyone in your business stays safe.