It’s common for people to associate dangerous goods only with bombs, ammunition, fireworks or other explosive materials. In fact, many people are surprised to learn that everyday products such as paint, aerosol cans, and batteries are also considered dangerous goods and can present significant hazards, even in small quantities.
Dangerous goods are categorised into nine separate classes based on the nature of the hazard they present. The definition of each class is consistent internationally and has a threshold that can be measured to define whether a particular substance is classified as dangerous goods or not. To reduce the risk associated with dangerous goods we apply regulations which restrict quantities and the size and type of packaging used.
Depending on the mode of transport, dangerous goods are made safe by the enforcement of standards and regulations which are known to reduce the risks from ‘dangerous goods’ to an ‘acceptable level’. For these regulations to work, dangerous goods need to be declared accurately and participants in the logistics process must be informed and aware of regulations and requirements for the dangerous goods they are handling.
The following is an overview of the nine classes of dangerous goods:
Class 1: Explosive Materials
Explosives are substances that can cause catastrophic damage through force and/or producing hazardous amounts of heat, light, sound, gas or smoke. This occurs through a chemical reaction producing gases at high temperatures, pressures and speeds. Explosives fall into six sub-divisions based on the type of explosion caused. Examples include ammunition and fireworks.
Class 2: Gases
Gases include compressed gas, liquefied gas, dissolved gas, refrigerated liquefied gas, mixtures of one or more gases with one ore more vapor substances of other classes and articles charged with a gas and aerosol. They are classified under three sub-classes: flammable gases, toxic gases and gases that are neither flammable nor toxic. Examples include aerosol cans, BBQ gas cylinders, and compressed air.
Class 3: Flammable Liquids
Flammable liquids are liquids, mixtures of liquids or liquids containing solids in solution which give off flammable vapors at certain temperatures and have a flash point of less than 60.5 degrees Celsius. Examples include chemicals like acetone, ethanol, and petrol.
Class 4: Flammable Solids
Flammable solids are materials which are easily combustible or may cause or contribute to fire through friction or self-reactive substances. They also include substances which can spontaneously heat under normal transport conditions, or when they come into contact with air or water. They are divided into three sub-divisions and include sulphur, matches, activated carbon and alkali metals are all considered flammable solids.
Class 5: Oxidising Substances and Organic Pesticides
These are broken down into two sub-divisions and refer to agents that react with oxygen and organic pesticides which may cause or contribute to combustion. Some examples are hydrogen peroxide, sodium nitrate and ammonium nitrate fertilisers.
Class 6: Toxic and Infectious Substances
Toxic substances are those which can lead to or cause death or serious injury if swallowed, inhaled or contact is made with skin. There are two types, toxic substances and infectious substances. Examples include cyanide, lead, arsenic, some pesticides and infectious pathology specimens.
Class 7: Radioactive Materials
These are materials containing radionuclides where both the activity concertation and the total activity exceeds certain pre-defined values. Examples include radioactive ores, isotopes and enriched uranium, but also smoke detectors and some measurement devices used in manufacturing and construction.
Class 8: Corrosive Materials
Corrosives are liquids and solids which degrade or disintegrate other materials when they come into contact with them. Corrosive materials include battery acids, sulfuric acid and mercury.
Class 9: Miscellaneous
Miscellaneous dangerous goods are a class that relates to substances not covered by the other classes that may pose a danger during transport. These include items like solid dry ice, asbestos, life rafts and lithium batteries.
If you’d like to know more or have any questions about the safe and compliant storage, handling and transportation of dangerous goods please contact us today.