The who, what, where, when and why of hazardous materials in transportation
The subject of the transportation of hazardous materials is one that would require a small library of books to fully discuss the subject. A properly prepared dangerous goods shipment requires knowledge in, but not limited to applicable hazardous materials regulations, chemistry, physics, fluids mechanics and thermodynamics. The purpose of this article is to give a brief overview for someone who does not have an in depth knowledge of the transportation of hazardous materials. The first step to get acquainted with dangerous goods is to know the five W's of hazardous materials transportation.
Who is responsible for a hazardous material shipment?
The main focus of liability of a dangerous goods shipment falls upon the person named as the shipper. A shipper is a person who offers a hazardous material for transportation in commerce. Liability for a dangerous goods shipment and hazardous materials regulations extend much further than the shipper and encompass persons who cause a hazardous material to be transported, such as a freight forwarder. Persons that perform pre-transportation functions, such as preparing packaging, labeling and classification are also subject to regulatory requirements. Responsibility and liability extend even further to include, but not limited to warehouse activities such as container loading and the operators of vehicles that physically transport the hazardous material consignments.
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What is a hazardous material?
According to the definition of hazardous material set forth by Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration in title 49 “means a substance or material that the Secretary of Transportation has determined as capable of posing an unreasonable risk to health, safety, and property when transported on commerce”. Some generally expected examples of hazardous materials are corrosive materials, explosives, flammable liquids, oxidizers and radioactive to name a few. Examples of unexpected hazardous materials include aerosol cans, lithium batteries, automotive airbags, perfumery products, internal combustion engines and even magnetized materials. Within the hazardous material regulations there are over three-thousand proper shipping names assigned to structure and classify dangerous goods shipments.
Where are the regulations applicable?
Hazardous material requirements are applicable worldwide. Each country, commonly referred to as a state has their own regulations and shipments moving through a given country must be adhered to even if that location is a transfer point. The requirements for a shipment can also vary according to mode of transportation, whether it is ground, air or ocean. Co-coordinating an export shipment can become quite complicated particularly if the shipment moves through multiple countries by various modes of transportation.
When did the regulations regarding the transportation of hazardous materials come into effect?
Over 100 years of history evolved to form the current hazardous materials regulations for transportation. The most notable changes occurred during the 1970's when a series of dangerous goods shipments caught the public's attention. Beyond then an incident involving ValuJet aircraft spurred a dramatic reform and changed how the United States and world viewed the transportation of dangerous goods.
For more information about hazardous materials in history please see here: Hazardous Materials History (http://dgspecialists.com/
Why is the transportation of dangerous goods so highly regulated?
The reason why the transportation of hazardous materials is so highly regulated is best described by the actual definition of a hazardous material, “a substance or material that the Secretary of Transportation has determined as capable of posing an unreasonable risk to health, safety, and property when transported on commerce”. The effects of a hazardous material incident can cause serious injury, death and damage to property. The most well known case of a dangerous goods shipment being improperly shipped had a devastating effect is the crash of ValuJet Flight 592. On May 11, 1996 five boxes of oxygen generators incorrectly classified and documented as empty, were loaded onto the airplane. These units ultimately activated causing a fire with a horrendous effect.
Additional consequences for incorrectly shipping dangerous goods: Hazmat fines and penalties (http://dgspecialists.com/
The transportation of hazardous materials entails a high degree of liability, responsibility and knowledge. With proper training and research dangerous goods shipments can be safely be put into transportation. The key aspect that cannot be stressed enough is proper training and thorough regulatory research.
DGM New York can handle any project, whether it is a 10 gram sample of a chemical or 650,000 kilos of dangerous goods. Any shipment, any size, any time, DGM can help.
To learn more about how DGM New York can assist you with dangerous goods services please go to http://dgm-usa-
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