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A Business Owner’s Guide to Shipping Dangerous Goods

Whether you run an online store, have a logistics business, or run a different type of organization, it’s vital to understand the idea of hazardous goods and how to ship such things safely.

Know that it’s your responsibility to take steps to keep items from harming people, animals, or the environment, and you can face large penalties if you don’t take the necessary precautions. Shipping dangerous goods don’t have to be a headache day after day, though. As long as you follow certain steps, you can cover yourself and your business.

Know the Items Considered as Dangerous Goods

Firstly, you need to wrap your head around which items are considered by authorities as dangerous goods, so you know what to handle and transport securely. Hazardous things are those with some inherent property that if not correctly controlled, could pose a risk to any type of living organism, and/or the environment and world at large.

Hazardous materials come in liquids, solids, or gases, and can have a strong odor, or none at all. They can also be hot or cold and have minimal negative effects or fatal/catastrophic ones. Dangerous goods are also classified into different categories. They’re often identified based on whether or not they’re flammable, poisonous, explosive, or hazardous in some other way. Items in different categories need to be handled and transported in different ways, too.

The list of things that can be classified as potentially dangerous is long, and even includes items that many people wouldn’t initially think of as posing a threat. For instance, substances such as perfume, batteries, paint, and nail polish make hazardous lists.

Also keep in mind that each country tends to have its own rules about what’s classified as a dangerous good, and how to handle such items. As a result, always check the regulations at the destination where your packages are being sent, so you know how to protect your interests and that of others. When shipping internationally you will also want to know the difference between ddp vs ddu.

Use the Right Packaging

When it comes to moving potentially hazardous goods, the way these items are packaged is vital. To keep materials secure and unable to harm anyone or thing, use the right kinds of containers that have adequate closures and provide enough cushioning. You’ll need to use absorbent materials to contain leaks, in case they happen, too.

It’s wise to utilize additional signs and stickers that caution transporters to be careful with dangerous packages. For example, purchase clear shock indicator warning materials that alert people to the potentially hazardous nature of the contents of packages, plus also indicate if materials have become more dangerous (e.g., dislodged or leaking) en route to their destination.

Packaging must be right not just in trucks or on ships or trains etc., but also doing their job when parcels are in warehouses or otherwise handled by staff members and other transportation crews, customs officials, etc.

Train Your Staff Properly

Business owners need to train their employees in the correct ways to handle and create paperwork for dangerous items, too. Anyone who has anything to do with hazardous materials at any point along the way must know how to stay safe, the specific tasks they need to complete (and the right order to do them in), and any other related information.

You also should make your staff members aware of the potential consequences if they don’t take their responsibilities seriously. After all, companies can be fined huge fees or have other negative consequences imposed on them if goods are not shipped safely or other non-compliance issues are found.

Create Safety Protocols for Everyone to Follow

The best way to avoid being liable is to create safety protocols for everyone on your team to follow. Taking this step significantly reduces the likelihood that problems will occur. For instance, put together a checklist for people to follow when creating documents for dangerous goods, handling them, transporting them, or handing them off to others.

It also helps to put checks and balances in place. For example, require more than one person to read a label to ensure the use of the right one, or have one person package a good and another sign off on it or take a photo of it.

You can also utilize tech software to track shipments and document the care taken with them along the route to final delivery. This all helps to prove compliance if any problems arise.

Shipping potentially hazardous goods can be a little nerve-wracking and more time-consuming than sending standard packages. However, by being careful with how you and your team go about things in this area, you’ll better protect your business from liability and reduce stress levels for all involved.

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