TT Talk - Dangerous Goods Safety Advisors


The requirement for employers engaged in the transport of dangerous goods by road, rail or inland waterway to appoint a Dangerous Goods Safety Advisor (DGSA) was introduced from 1 January 2000, through EC Directive 96/35/EC. With changes afoot, is this enough?

The European Agreement Concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR), the Regulations Concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Rail (RID) and/or the European Agreement Concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Inland Waterways (ADN) all include a requirement to appoint a DGSA.

However, there is no such requirement under the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code for maritime transport, or for the International Air Transport Association (IATA) regulations for goods transported by air. Regardless, it would be prudent for the DGSA to be aware of the applicable requirements under maritime and air modes, and how they interact with road, rail and inland waterway modes.

What is required

A DGSA is responsible for assisting businesses to prevent the risks associated with the carriage of classified dangerous goods, in particular the risks posed to people, property and the environment. The responsibilities of the role include monitoring compliance with the regulations governing the carriage of dangerous goods and extend to the provision of training, reporting of incidents to the applicable authorities and investigating accidents or breaches of the regulations. The appointed DGSA must also prepare an annual report outlining the performance of the business as transporters of dangerous goods. The full requirements for the role are set out in Chapter 1.8.3 of ADR.

Any entity involved in consigning, packing or transporting dangerous goods by road, rail or inland waterway is required to appoint a DGSA. However, it is possible for Competent Authorities (responsible national agencies) to establish certain exemptions1.

The exemptions are generally influenced by the activities of the business (particularly national transport), the nature of operation, whether radioactive material is transported2, application of Special Provisions3 and the quantity of goods4 to be transported.

In light of the above, it would be prudent for businesses to assess the need to appoint a DGSA against their specific operation and where applicable the relevant exemptions.

Assess the need to appoint a DGSA against [your] specific operation and where applicable the relevant exemptions

Changes on the way 

In 2019, the ADR introduced changes to the regulations, stating that those entities defined as ‘consignors’ only were required to appoint a DGSA. ‘Consignor’ is defined in ADR as “the enterprise which consigns dangerous goods either on its behalf or for a third party. If the transport operation is carried out under a contract for carriage, consignor means the consignor according to the contract for carriage”.

The change came into effect on 31 December 2019, and stated that the necessary appointment must happen no later than 31 December 2022. From 1 January 2023 all consignors of dangerous goods across road, rail and inland waterways must appoint a DGSA.

From 1 January 2023 all consignors of dangerous goods across road, rail and inland waterways must appoint a DGSA

Appointing a DGSA

The business must decide whether to train and appoint one of its employees as DGSA or alternatively contract with a third-party provider to act on their behalf. However, it is vital to ensure that the appointed DGSA has sufficient time and resource to undertake this important role of managing the risks associated with the transportation of dangerous goods. Complex businesses that operate from multiple locations might consider the appointment of more than one DGSA. 


A DGSA must pass written examinations to earn a certificate that specifies the applicable modes of transport as well as the classes of dangerous goods on which the individual is qualified to advise. The certificate expires after five years and the DGSA must then sit a further examination to maintain their qualification.

The first task of any DGSA should be to undertake a thorough assessment of the entity’s activities associated with the shipment of dangerous goods. While not exhaustive, this should include the identification of the classes of dangerous goods to be shipped, whether they qualify for limited quantity or excepted quantity or any other exemptions, details of the types of packages being transported, identification of individuals’ roles and responsibilities, training requirements, and the existence and adequacy of any written procedures.

Part of the DGSA role is to ensure that they (and the business) are up to date with legislative and regulatory amendments, guidelines and industry good practice concerning the carriage and handling of dangerous goods. The relevant texts are typically amended on a biennial cycle and the DGSA must identify and evaluate any required changes to existing procedures and communicate them to all relevant personnel. 

Concluding thoughts

The requirement for consignors to appoint a DGSA could have positive impact on safety. A greater depth of knowledge through the supply chain would be beneficial and additional responsibility on those businesses entering goods into the supply chain should be widely welcomed. Consignors would also benefit from efficiencies in identifying potential issues before they would otherwise arise in relation to packaging, segregation or packing. Early and successful interventions are likely to minimise delays and associated costs.

However, as noted above, this compliance role does not apply in the maritime or air modes, which might assist broader intermodal safety objectives. Furthermore, ensuring awareness of and compliance with dangerous goods regulations within the varied supply chain entities does not in itself ensure all is done correctly. For example, complete and accurate classification (by a consignor) may well require a scientist.

We gratefully acknowledge the assistance in the preparation of this article of Will Bartle of EXIS Technologies.


1See for example paragraph ADR

2See paragraph ADR

3See Chapter 3.3 ADR

4See paragraph ADR and following paragraphs, and Chapters 3.4 and 3.5 AD


If you would like further information, or have any comments, please email us, or take this opportunity to forward to any others who you may feel would be interested.

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Peregrine Storrs-Fox

Risk Management Director