Advice on safe shipping of hazardous materials

Do you need to ship potentially hazardous materials? This can be difficult as international shipping regulations have changed drastically since 2001. The list of materials has never been longer than today. This does not come as surprise since many shipping companies are not thrilled with sending potentially dangerous materials. The reason is simple. There is a higher chance of something going wrong unlike with standard project cargo. However, sometimes this situation is inventible. Therefore, here are several helpful pieces of advice on safe shipping hazardous materials Make sure you pack your items well before shipping them to a foreign country.

radioactive sign
Radioactive items are classified as dangerous materials

Definition of hazardous materials 

As mentioned, the list of potentially hazardous materials is quite long. For this reason, here are the most common materials. Some of them can be taken care of as exhibition cargo but make sure to talk with your shipping company. 

  • Dry ice 
  • Hazardous chemicals 
  • Radioactive materials 
  • Liquid nitrogen 
  • Infectious substances 

Based on these names alone you can see why they are seen as hazardous. In addition to this, some everyday items might fall into this category as well. Check their description. Look for words such as potentially explosive, combustive, flammable, radioactive, toxic, infective, inflammable, etc. Also, they can contain poison, acid, compressed gas. They can be susceptible to corrosion or they are quite volatile. Make sure to read all the contents of items and products you wish to ship internationally. Look for the words mentioned above. They can help you in defining hazardous materials.  

Safe shipping of hazardous materials – the most common products 

There are many items you use every day that contain hazardous materials. For example, batteries are classified as such items. If you ever traveled by plane, you know how strict they are with bringing batteries into the cabin. Next, electronic equipment can contain a magnet, mercury, and other hazardous materials. If you own a construction company and need to ship construction material and equipment, pay attention to their contents. Usually, construction materials and equipment contain CO2, fuels, chemicals, batteries, and similar. On the other hand, if you are shipping car equipment, again be careful. Airbags especially can have hazardous materials. Next, air conditioning equipment can contain fuels and compressed gas. Camping equipment as well usually contains liquids, flammable fuels, batteries, etc. Lastly, household items may contain chemicals that are classified as dangerous materials. Therefore, check your items before you ship them so you can prepare accordingly.  

safe shipping of hazardous materials found in batteries
Be careful when shipping batteries to another country

Get proper packing supplies 

Since you are shipping your items internationally, you have to use appropriate packaging. It is not enough to get a cardboard box, put your items inside, and seal it. This is perfect for ordinary items. However, they are not effective when you are planning the safe shipping of hazardous materials. You have to find the appropriate containers for highly dangerous materials. All the shipping companies will refuse to ship hazardous materials without proper packaging. You can get a special container for gas, liquids, and similar materials from shipping companies. For items containing dangerous materials, you can reinforce boxes with steel strips. They are durable and highly effective when shipping hazardous items. In addition to this, metal objects such as knives, are dangerous for obvious reasons. That is why you should wrap them into bubble wrapping and similar protective materials. Make sure that sharp objects cannot cut through the box.  

Safe shipping of hazardous materials with a reputable shipping company 

As you can see, it is quite complicated to ship hazardous materials. You certainly cannot ship it on your own. For this reason, you should find a reputable shipping company. The Internet is your best start. Search for shipping companies but do not forget to add shipping companies for hazardous items/materials. Then, check their policies regarding this type of shipping. Are they using their packing supplies? Can you bring yours? What about insurance? How to claim the same insurance if something happens? You have to get answers to these questions before you sign the contract. In addition to this, you can prepare short instructions that everyone can see. These instructions would be labels on the boxes or shipping containers. You can also provide a shortlist of contents of your boxes and items, especially if you packed them. 

Check rules and regulations of a receiving country 

Are you shipping hazardous materials internationally? Then you have to check the rules and regulations of the country you are shipping to. You have two options. For example, you want to ship some potentially dangerous materials to Japan. Japan is quite strict with imports and export. For this reason, you can either visit the official website of the Japanese Customs. You can switch to English if you are not fluent in Japanese and check regulations there. If you are fluent in Japanese, you can contact them as well. Most official websites of one country’s customs have an English version so you do not have to worry about the language barrier. The other option is to check with your shipping agent. They should be able to help you. Most common rules are concerned with labels and permissions.  

woman looking at computer
Check with custom service about rules of a foreign country

Safe shipping of hazardous materials – batteries edition 

The last piece of advice on the safe shipping of hazardous materials is about batteries. They are the most common hazardous items people usually ship. You can find them in countless products, even where you do not expect them. For this reason, you have to check the contents of your items. See if they contain anything that can be labeled as hazardous. A shipping company can refuse to offer a service if you do not notify them about batteries or similar materials. In addition to this, you have dozens of different kinds of batteries. They can be lithium metal, lead-acid batteries, non-spillable batteries, lithium-ion batteries, and others. Check rules for each type. The reason is simple. You cannot ship certain types by air so you have to find another solution. 

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