DG Shipping Service

DG Shipping | Dangerous Goods and Hazardous Cargo | DG Shipping Service & Global Transport


Many of you reading this post will likely have many articles or substances in your own home that when part of an international or domestic supply chain will be considered as being a ‘dangerous goods’.


Images of primed explosives or nuclear waste might spring to mind when you think of dangerous goods & hazardous freight.


Given recent events in global transport and supply chains, not least the catastrophic explosion in Tianjin China, cargo shippers, forwarders, shipping lines/ airlines/ haulers, warehousemen, cargo handlers and just about everyone else involved in the movement of goods considered dangerous are under increased pressure to ensure that every shipment complies with DG regulations.




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What exactly are Dangerous Goods (DG)?


Dangerous goods can be defined as materials or items with hazardous properties which if not properly controlled, present a potential hazard to animal and human health and safety, the environment and infrastructure.


Dangerous goods can be liquids, solids or gases. They can be cold or hot, pungent or odorless, transparent or colored and their hazardous effects can be anything from minimal to fatal. They may be pure chemicals, mixtures of substances, manufactured products or individual articles on their own.


If you’re an individual involved with loading/ unloading dangerous goods, then one should be aware of shipments that carry any one or more of the above listed Class Hazard Danger Labels. Shipments of Dangerous Goods (with the exception of Limited Quantities and Excepted Quantities) must be packed in UN approved packaging and conform to certain standards of construction and testing. The packing approval code denotes the type of packaging in question, the type of dangerous goods suitable for use within and manufacturer details among other details. It is also possible that DGNs (dangerous goods notes) could innocently go missing or be separated from the rest of the consignments paperwork.


In the USA, transporting hazardous materials by road is governed by The Code of Federal Regulations 49, and covers the domestic transportation of hazardous materials for all modes of transport to, from, and within the United States. In Australia, the Dangerous Goods act of 2008 governs DG movements by road.



LQs: Limited Quantities


Limited Quantities as defined by the regulations for the relevant mode of transport allows for the carriage of certain hazardous substance( s) under relaxed guidelines providing certain conditions are met. The main condition being that quantity thresholds of the substance being shipped are limited. Often shippers falsely believe that complying with LQ quantity provisions means they are exempt from compliance in other areas such as declaring LQs shipments, labelling and placarding of transport units.


Some hazardous effects of these goods can include acidic/ caustic burning of skin tissue, the emission of toxic and/or flammable fumes, some products can be corrosive to metals and other materials, others can be explosive by nature or when exposed to sources of heat. Certain goods can be harmful to the environment if not contained properly and others can react dangerously to water.


The transportation of dangerous goods is regulated to prevent as far as possible, accidents involving people or property, damage to the environment, to the means of transport employed or to other goods being transported. Each mode of transport, (air, sea, road, rail and inland waterway) has its own regulations.


Cargo handlers need to be aware of what exactly they are handling. An innocent looking powder leaking from a sack could in fact be a toxic or caustic substance that could be fatal on inhalation. A spill from un-marked drums on exposed skin might not seem dangerous at the time, but on contact with water when washing, the substance could react dangerously and cause serious soft tissue damage.




Dangerous Goods Shipping Awareness & Dangerous Goods Labels that a DG Shipping Company Uses


Excepted Quantity Mark


This mark will generally be affixed to shipments that fall below the LQ threshold. Excepted Quantity shipments are generally very small in nature and as such benefit from very relaxed guidelines and rules. This is still an indication that dangerous goods are present within the shipment and due diligence should still be taken.



Orientation arrows


Often a prerequisite for shipping dangerous goods in liquid form in combination packages. Orientation arrows are required to be affixed to outer packages containing smaller inner packages such as bottles and vials containing hazardous substances.




The term OVERPACK is designated to packages used as an enclosure by a single shipper to contain one or more packages and to form one handling unit for convenience of handling and stowage.



UN Number

Shipments of Dangerous Goods (with the exception of Limited Quantities and Excepted Quantities) must be packed in UN approved packaging and conform to certain standards of construction and testing. The packing approval code denotes the type of packaging in question, the type of dangerous goods suitable for use within and manufacturer details among other details. It will be this identification mark on whatever type of packaging used in a shipment that may give an indication as to the packages contents in the absence of other marks/ labels.


The label would usually be marked with the name of the substance with the words “AS COOLANT” or “AS CONDITIONER” eg. UN 1845, CARBON DIOXIDE, SOLID, AS COOLANT.


This label is used to warn cargo handlers/ drivers of the potential hazards contained within a package or transport unit in circumstances where substances such as Solid Carbon Dioxide (Dry Ice) or Liquid Argon is used as a coolant in the package or transport unit/ container.


Safety data sheets provide useful information on chemicals and other substances, describing the hazards the article presents, and giving information on storage, handling and emergency measures in case of an accident.


Environmentally Hazardous Substance Mark.



The UN Packaging Code


Each package in a dangerous goods shipment (except for certain Limited and Excepted Quantity shipments) are required to display the UN Number of the hazardous substance in the shipment which must be preceded by the letters ‘UN’.


If a certain substance has been assigned a UN Number, this number will be present on the Safety Data Sheet and as such must comply with the regulations of whatever mode of transport is being used to ship the goods. Not every substance with a safety data sheet however will be classified as a hazardous or dangerous substance.


‘Ordinary’ Dangerous Goods

There are many everyday items that we may even have in our homes that fall under the auspices of International Regulations for the Carriage of Dangerous Goods when part of supply chains.


The following is a small example of some of those items so that shippers, cargo handlers and administrative staff might be more aware of the sensitive nature of certain cargoes that they’re handling.


  • Batteries
  • Paints
  • Solvents and paint thinners
  • Aerosols, perfumes, some deodorants
  • Gases in the form of pressurized cylinders like portable camping stoves
  • Compressed air canisters like oxygen tanks
  • Corrosive substances like caustic soda and bleaches, dry ice for use as a coolant
  • Firelighters, matches, cigarette lighters
  • Air bag units for vehicles, emergency flares, self-inflating life jackets and rafts
  • Certain magnetized materials
  • Cell phones and other devices with chargeable lithium batteries
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Pesticides, insecticides
  • Fertilizers
  • Dry cleaning solvents
  • De-icer
  • Glass cleaner
  • Adhesives, glues



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