A recent survey from Labelmaster revealed some serious concerns regarding the shippers of hazardous materials (AKA dangerous goods, or DG) and those who are supposed to clearly understand this document.
The complexities are not lost on those who were surveyed, and in fact around 56 percent of them agreed with the statement “..even Einstein would have difficulty understanding the 49 CFR shipping requirements,” while some 59 percent noted the challenges of just keeping up with the frequent changes and modifications to the regulations.
The question is, how can this trend be reversed, and what are some ways that shippers can better understand these documents?
Take a Step Back
It is reasonable to be slightly overwhelmed by the massive amount of pages associated with hazardous shipping documents. This includes the US 49 CFR Parts 100-185 that touch on the DG shipments or the IMDG Code for ocean States, or even the AIR Shipper documents. These guidelines along with their lists of modifications feature sufficient smaller sections that make it easier to understand their meaning and regulations. A systematic process makes it easier to break them down and retain the most from them. No matter what document must be followed, the following guidelines will assist in garnering the most from them.
Isolate the correct set of rules to use with your shipping situation. For United States shipping via ground transport, the rules found in the 49 CFR Parts 100-185 apply. This section represents the correct shipping for dangerous goods.
For air transport, the ICAO TI is the correct selection. Some air carriers have their own set of “limitations,” so it is best to check there prior to making any consistent shipping changes. These rules must be adhered to when shipping dangerous goods.
Domestic air carriers also have their own rules and regulations, you can find those in the 49 CFR. These rules are typically isolated to limited applications in the Gulf of Mexico and the Alaskan bush. When shipping on an ocean carrier, the IMDG Code would be your best guide. For internal U.S. waterways turn to the 49 CFR.
There are often slight state variations to contend with, but by and large you can use this loose outline to guide you through the sometimes treacherous water of dangerous shipping goods.
Contact TCA for assistance with all your 49 CFR and Shipping Compliance needs. We have training available online or in person and can custom tailor a program to fit your operations!