Safely Shipping Hazardous Materials
Transportation of any cargo demands attention to detail and a clean safety record on the part of the shipping agent. But hazardous materials require some additional considerations.
The Department of Transportation defines hazardous materials (or HAZMAT) as “a substance or material… capable of posing an unreasonable risk to health, safety, and property when transported in commerce”. This definition encompasses everything from explosives to flammable materials to toxic or radioactive substances.
How can you ship hazardous materials safely and reliably? We’ve prepared a brief overview of the process: what you will need to do, and what you can expect.
Finding a Transportation Provider
When seeking shipping services for any cargo, reviews (both online and through word-of-mouth) are important, as is finding a provider with a modernized fleet of vehicles and state-of-the-art equipment. But in the case of HAZMAT transportation, do double-check that the company and its drivers hold the proper qualifications.
Transporting hazardous materials within the United States necessitates that the shipping provider possess a Hazardous Materials Safety Permit (HMSP). This simply ensures that your provider has established safety and handling protocols that align with federal requirements. Finding a qualified transportation service isn’t just the law, it’s necessary to keep your shipment (and the public) safe.
Classify Your Cargo
There are nine classes of hazardous materials:
- Compressed Gases
- Flammable Liquids
- Flammable Solids
- Oxidizers & Organic Peroxides
- Toxic Materials
- Radioactive Materials
- Corrosive Materials
- Miscellaneous (not falling into the above classes)
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that manufacturers develop a data sheet for their products, which records their physical properties and any risks that might be posed by exposure. Whether or not you are the manufacturer of your cargo, it’s important to collect this information and have it on hand. This will significantly simplify the shipping process.
Packaging is key when it comes to HAZMAT shipping. Leaks can often pose serious risks to the safety of transportation workers and your intended recipient – sometimes even to the environment and public at large as well – and the responsibility falls on everyone involved with the transportation process, yourself included.
What actually constitutes “proper packaging” will vary greatly depending on the specific cargo in question. Your carrier should be willing to work with you, ensuring that hazardous materials are sufficiently packaged, labeled, and papered in advance. As such, it’s important to seek not only a provider who offers to assist, but also one with the background knowledge necessary to do the job right.
With over 80 years of experience in shipping, warehousing, and inventory services, Bonded Service understands your needs better than anyone. For your free consultation, give us a call today at (404) 349-1466, or use our online contact form.