Properly Prepare Handling Instructions, Labeling, and Documentation

hazardous materials what they are

When many people think of hazardous materials, they picture radioactive liquids and dangerous materials. While these are definitely proper examples, they also include materials and goods that most people don’t think to consider – we will address these below. Because of this, many shippers find that they incur safety violations and costly fines because they did not comply with the necessary paperwork or labeling requirements.

In fact, one of the most frequently cited safety violations of the Hazardous Materials Regulations is the shipper failing to accurately declare the hazardous material on their associated shipping documentation.

What are Hazardous Materials?

Hazardous materials may sound intimidating, but they are made up of items that are essential to our economies, such as batteries, paint, and even perfume.

Following proper protocol when shipping hazardous materials is important not only to avoid hefty penalties but also to ensure the safety of all the parties involved in transporting, packaging, and handling the items. According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), in accordance with a number of other transport and travel authorities across the globe, have deemed the following items as hazardous, classified in various levels by threat and danger level.

  1. Explosives
  2. Gases
  3. Flammable Liquids
  4. Flammable Solids
  5. Toxic & Infectious Substances
  6. Radioactive Material
  7. Corrosives
  8. Miscellaneous Dangerous Goods

Within each classification are three packing groups: I, II, & III.

  • Packing Group I hold the HazMats with the greatest risk and therefore the most regulated.
  • Packing Group II presents items with a moderate risk and moderate regulation.
  • Packing Group III has the least risk and is the least regulated.

No matter what the use or type of hazardous material, they should always be handled with care. This means carefully complying with any necessary special regulations and procedures.

Proper Packaging and Paperwork

Naturally, hazardous materials pose a general risk, as the materials within are, after all, hazardous. The idea behind such stringent packing requirements is to help minimize the potential hazard of the materials being transported. UN-certified packaging is available to make the lives of shippers and freight forwarders everywhere a little easier. These shipping materials are subjected to extensive testing, including drop tests, stack tests, vibration tests, water absorption tests, and pressure differential tests. However, in order to know what type of packaging is required, you will have to know more about the materials inside.

Packaging

On the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) website, improperly secured packages are listed at the number one HazMat violation in roadside inspections. In order to determine the proper packaging, you will need to have information on the method of transport being used. For example, copies of International Air Transport Association (IATA) and International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) regulations if the HazMats will be shipped using air transport. You can refer to the Department of Transportation (DOT) for ground transport information. Be sure that any necessary hazard statements, pictograms, or descriptions are clearly visible and that all of the materials inside were properly stored and packaged in the appropriate drums, shipping canisters, or leak-proof bagging.

A packaging construction system developed by the United Nations Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods is available, known as the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR). To ensure that a HazMat shipment is not subjected to any fines or violations, the shipper must be responsible for guaranteeing that the merchandise has met all applicable special requirements and that the goods have been produced, put together, and marked in compliance with the HMR.

Paperwork

In 2012, the Hazard Communication Standard was revised to require that all manufacturers, distributors, and importers include a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for each hazardous material included in a shipment. An MSDS includes a number of necessary information, including what is commonly known as the Basic Description.

This is very important and it should include the proper shipping name, an identification number, hazard class, and the packing group in that specific order. Listing this info in a different order can result in a violation. The MSDS or shipping papers should contain the following up-to-date information, located conspicuously in a central location.

  • Seller/shipper’s name and address
  • Consignee’s/buyer’s name and address
  • Basic description
  • Total quantity, type, and kind of package
  • Weights and volume
  • Shipper’s declaration
  • Emergency Response Information, including a 24hr emergency response phone number
  • Page numbers
  • Title and signature

Save the Hassle, Trust the Experts

Sound like a lot? Not to worry, we have you covered! At Promptus LLC, we offer clients full-scale air & ocean freight forwarding services, including the ability to safely, securely, and legally transport hazardous materials. In addition, we have Licensed Customs Brokers available to help you handle all the necessary paperwork and duty payments to ensure that no mistakes are made. Contact us today at 1-877-776-6799 to speak to one of our Global Logistics Experts and learn what services may be right for you!