Virtually all hazardous materials can be shipped, received, and handled safely if appropriate precautions are taken. In just about every case, though, it will take plenty of knowledge, preparation, and care to make sure that dangerous goods do not cause harm to people or damage to valuable property.

Fortunately, there are some amply proven ways to make things simpler, regardless of the situation. A quick look at the five tips which make the most difference when shipping and handling dangerous goods could be enlightening.

Hazmat shipping label on box

There is No Substitute for Responsible, Careful Shipping and Handling

From flammable or explosive substances to poisonous and radioactive ones, there are many types of hazardous materials that regularly need to be transported, received, and handled before being stored safely. As those who see details at CL Smith will learn, there are entire enterprises that focus on providing whichever types of support and supplies might be needed to avert associated dangers.

Anyone who is tasked with arranging for the shipment or handling of dangerous goods will still need to put in plenty of effort of their own. Five ways of making problems or mishaps less likely are to:

1. Use class- and carrier-specific packaging

The code of Federal Regulations divides hazardous materials into nine distinct groups, each of which implies certain dangers. Packaging always needs to be chosen to suit the class of hazardous material, as even a slight mismatch can be disastrous. Putting a flammable liquid from Class 3 into a carton meant for combustible solids of Class 4, for instance, will mean doing without appropriate forms of packaging-enabled protection. The same goes for carrier-related packaging requirements, as these can differ drastically from one to the other.

2. Choose an appropriate carrier

Some hazardous materials simply cannot be transported by some types of shippers. Class 1 explosives that present a “mass explosive hazard,” for example, are not generally eligible for transportation via a commercial flight. The destination a shipment is headed for will also impact the suitability of particular carriers, especially when international borders are to be crossed. In just about every case, getting in touch with a carrier that might be under consideration will quickly reveal whether it will actually be an appropriate choice.

3. Document and label properly

With very few exceptions, companies and people who plan to ship hazardous materials are required to document their plans and make appropriate authorities aware of them. In most cases, such parties will also be called on to label their shipments in accordance with relevant regulations. That can be as simple as attaching “HazMat” stickers to boxes or a lot more involved. The nature of the goods to be transported, the carrier, and the intended destination will need to be known to define the particulars.

Shipping staff planning for HazMat shipping and handling

4. Plan ahead

Trying to rush a shipment full of hazardous materials will never be a good idea. In addition to making mistakes on the shipping side more likely, this will make things more difficult for those tasked with receiving and handling a shipment. Planning ahead means being able to go over the details a number of times to make sure all the pieces are in place.

5. Keep up with the training

There is no substitute for effective training, whether when shipping hazardous materials or handling them. Even people who work regularly with such goods can benefit from taking refresher courses that ensure all the required knowledge remains available.

Working Toward a Future Free of HazMat Accidents

Hazardous materials present dangers even when they are being stored carefully in protected locations. When such dangerous goods need to be shipped or handled, the associated threat level inevitably rises even higher. Keeping the five tips above in mind at all times will make hazmat-related problems a lot less likely to arise.