TT Talk - Readers' input on hazmat

In TT Talk No 46 we asked you to contribute ideas that might increase awareness of, and compliance with, the international regulations for the carriage of dangerous goods (IMDG).

We had a healthy response and among the ideas submitted were:

  • The "pinch point" is the start of the transport chain: the booking stage. If hazardous shipments slip through here, the opportunities for detecting them later on are minimal. Companies should encourage a more rigorous and probing approach to the cargoes that are being offered, and set up a standardised and methodical questioning to deal with all new bookings. Dangerous Goods Safety Advisers have a role to play in helping create questions and procedures to draw out the essential information about the products.
  • An easily accessible database of hazardous goods classifications. [This is available through Hazcheck - see the note in TT Talk No. 50. Ed.]
  • Certificates of origin should also certify whether goods are hazardous or non-hazardous, and include the appropriate UN No.
  • Every transport company should have someone who is aware of the commodities being handled by the organisation, and who can intervene to check suspicious shipments. [This is partly the role of the Dangerous Goods Safety Adviser, which companies in the EU are required to have available on their staff or as an outside consultant. Ed.]
  • A financial penalty (suggested to be about US$ 2000) should be imposed by carriers (including NVOCs) on shippers who present hazardous consignments without proper packing, labeling or documentation. This in part should compensate for the extra work involved, and in the precautions that have to be taken to ensure that the cargo presents no danger to personnel. This might be more effective than imposing a freight surcharge for carriage of all hazardous materials.
  • Make sure all clients are aware of the penalties associated with the non-declaration or misdeclaration of hazardous materials.
  • Encourage everyone in the transport chain (from truck driver to company president) to report violations and discrepancies. Institute a system of awards for such "whistle-blowers".
  • Publish a monthly log of violations and penalties to raise people's awareness of the issues.
  • Correlation between office and warehouse to ensure that, if cargoes are declared as hazardous, they are also properly marked (and vice-versa).
  • Know who your customers are, and what they are doing.

The Club does not make any particular recommendations with these suggestions, but regards them all as valuable in one way or another. Safety in transport is everybody's priority.

Thanks to everyone who took time to respond.

Staff Author

TT Club