Learn the Importance of Properly Shipping Dangerous Goods

Working with dangerous goods can be – well, dangerous – so it is essential to adhere to specific rules and regulations to lessen the chance of accidents. When shipping hazardous materials, the risk can be higher, especially if the shippers and everybody involved in the supply chain do not follow proper packing and storing instructions. Governing organizations like the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the Internal Maritime Organization (IMO) are responsible for overseeing and enforcing guidelines, codes, and ordinances that help to keep the crew, cargo, and transport vessels safe.

What is the IMDG Code?

To help reduce tragedies overseas IMO introduced the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code. This code is an extension of the SOLAS treaty, whose current version was implemented in 1974. Officially known as the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, SOLAS is responsible for dealing with many aspects of maritime safety, including the correct handle and transport of dangerous goods.

Maritime officials adopted the IMDG code in 1965 and introduced them as recommendary, but not necessary, guidelines for transporting dangerous goods in packaged form. It wasn’t until 2002 that the IMO upgraded it to mandatory under the backing of the SOLAS convention.

The Code provides details relevant to all hazardous materials, including individual substances, elements, or articles. It also covers matters related to proper packaging, container stowage and traffic, and necessary guidelines on isolating incompatible materials.

HAZMAT Regulations and DGD Forms

Where IMO handles ocean transportation, IATA is responsible for air transportation, including import and export cargo. Part of their responsibilities includes setting the standards for transporting HAZMAT products, which is outlined in the Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR). For over 60 years, the international airline industry has accepted the regulations and instructions provided in this guide as the global standard for handling dangerous goods. The guide is regularly updated with relevant new information. The 60th edition, for example, released new changes to the DGR on January 1, 2019.

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Under these international regulations, the DGR requires shippers to fill out a specific form that states the cargo has been properly packed, labeled, and declared as per IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR). This form, known as the DGD (dangerous goods declaration), enables shippers to identify all the details of the hazardous materials to ensure all parties handle them accordingly.

For your convenience, IATA allows shippers (or a Licensed Freight Forwarder) to electronically file the Shipper’s Declaration for Dangerous Goods known as the e-DGD. This option also provides access to an electronic database that provides members of the shipping industry the ability to both digitalize and share their data using the platform.

What Do These Regulations Cover?

While the IMO and the IATA’s guidelines vary based on the different stipulations related to the sea and the air, respectively, the goal is ultimately the same: to help prevent any risks associated with the transport of dangerous cargo.

Here are some of the things they cover:

  • Training requirements
  • Classifications of hazardous materials
  • Handling instructions for crew members
  • Security provisions
  • Important codes, marking, and labels

Stay On Top of Important Regulations

While it is the personal responsibility of every member of the import/export industry to familiarize themselves with the corresponding codes according to their shipping needs, we understand some areas can be more complicated to understand than others. At Promptus LLC, we have over 15 years of experience working with air and ocean shipping services, and we work diligently to stay on top of new guidelines introduced by IATA and IMO.

Our team of Licensed Customs Brokers can help you go coordinate shipments involving dangerous materials to ensure all the necessary rules surrounding paperwork, packaging, and transport are successfully met. Contact us today to get a quote for our freight forwarding services!