Most goods are not harmful themselves, but become dangerous when being transported in bulk quantities. For this reason, these goods are treated as hazardous materials when in transit.
The risks associated with moving hazardous materials include physical damage to property and equipment, and toxic contamination through the spillage and leakage of poisonous chemicals. The latter can cause damage to the environment and may also be fatal to humans and animals who might come into contact with the materials. Some waste materials also include infectious agents such as bacteria and viruses that represent a major biohazard risk.
Hazardous materials (or hazmats) require special handling and logistics to minimize the risks we have mentioned above. In this article, we cover some of the basics of hazmats transport procedures.
Hazmats transportation is subject to strict regulation. The nature of hazmat regulations depends on the jurisdiction in which the logistics provider operates, the mode of transportation, and the requirements of individual carriers.
It is important to follow hazmat regulations since they are designed to increase safety levels during transport. Getting hazmat compliance certificates is required for businesses dealing with hazardous substances. Certification helps companies to follow regulations. Failure to follow these regulations can result in steep penalties applied to your business.
Some important hazmats regulations can be found in Code 49 of Federal Regulations (CFR). Additional rules are also available on the Department of Transportation (DoT) website.
Hazmats can be transported over land, sea, and air. If you are shipping hazmats over long distances, the chances of using more than one of these modes are high. Therefore, it is advisable to consult your shipping partners when dealing with hazmats.
You can also opt for a compliant 3PL hazmat transportation service like Go Hazmat Hub, to easily ensure that your business follows all necessary rules and regulations.
Good Practices for Hazmat Transportation
There are several things you should keep in mind when moving hazardous materials. Here is a list of guidelines for managing hazmats safely.
Labeling contents in a container helps identify the type of materials to inform the personnel about the appropriate handling procedures. This is important when materials are in transit and handled by multiple personnel.
Use Appropriate Gas Cylinders
For gaseous materials, use cylinders with tightly-closed valves to prevent leakage. Gases stored at cryogenic temperatures should be kept in Dewar flasks with pressure relief mechanisms to prevent explosions. Gas cylinders should also be provided by approved and licensed vendors.
Use Secure Cargo Trunks
Hazmats should ideally be placed in a vehicle with a cargo trunk and a cargo bed. A cargo compartment helps physically secure cargo to reduce movement and subsequent damage.
Use Secondary Containers for Opened Items
Containers which are already opened are prone to leakages or spillage. In such cases, you should place opened items in a secondary container that is appropriately sealed. Materials used for the secondary container should be compatible with the material in the primary container to minimize damage.
Bring Spill Kits
A spill kit comes in handy for drivers working with liquid materials. Spill kits include protective gear (gloves, goggles, suits, etc.), secondary containers, cleaning equipment (like shovels and brooms), and, in some cases, neutralizing substances (just like fire extinguishers, but for other chemicals).
Keep Updated Documentation
It goes without saying that every driver or staff member involved in hazmat delivery must have access to the correct documentation. Documents are invaluable in helping staff to follow safety guidelines and standard operating procedures (SOPs). Document types include:
– Delivery details with inventory listings and tracking numbers
– Materials Safety Document Sheets (MSDS)
– Route details and related plans
– Other SOP details
Use Authorized Vehicles and Routes
When delivering hazmats, use vehicles maintained by the company to adhere to the required safety standards. Vehicles should also be insured to account for any accidents happening.
Avoid using public transport or consumer-level vehicles (this is prohibited in most hazmat regulations) or routes that are populated by pedestrians. Doing so greatly lowers the risk of a public hazard.
The Bottom Line
Hazmat transportation is serious business, and you should always prioritize training your team members in safe material handling procedures.
Hiring a 3PL Hazmat transportation service is also a viable option for your business if you want to check all your hazmat tick boxes. Go Hazmat Hub is a certified 3PL hazmat distribution service that specializes in hazardous materials packaging and handling, on-site hazmat documentation, and shipping dangerous goods. With brokers all around the United States, you can contact us from anywhere for reliable hazardous materials management that gives you peace of mind.