Hazardous Materials

9 Ways To Safely Transport Hazardous Materials

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Hazardous materials are products that have the potential to harm humans, animals, and the environment. These also require special conditions to ensure they won’t cause serious injuries, damage property, and harm communities during transport. Trucks, planes, cargo ships, and trains can minimize these risks when they follow existing transporting guidelines and prepare for incidents through training and the use of relevant technologies.   

How To Safely Transport Hazardous Materials

Carriers and forwarders can ensure safe transport and delivery of hazardous materials by adhering to the following measures:

1. Impose Proper Packaging

Packaging is a crucial aspect of the chemical transport process. Long before these goods hit the road, suppliers should ensure that hazardous materials are placed in appropriate containers, which should be properly marked and sealed. 

Containers should also indicate in words and in symbols the name of the chemical and its associated hazards. UN approved bulk bags used to pack hazardous material conform to international marking standards and are subjected to stringent testing to ensure safety and durability. They provide information regarding the dangerous goods so anyone who comes into contact knows how to properly handle them during loading, unloading, and even during incidents. 

Proper packaging ensures that hazardous materials remain intact during shipment. Aside from industry-grade receptacles, handlers can also protect products by following load requirements, distributing weight during loading, and securing them prior to transport. 

2. Provide Safety Data Sheet (SDS) 

In addition to proper packaging, carriers should also include a Safety Data Sheet. This reiterates information regarding the hazardous material and its associated hazards so recipients can take precautions. Safety Data Sheets are essential documents, and they should be kept in a file for two years. 

3. Comply With Transportation Guidelines 

Transporting dangerous substances by land, sea, or air is covered by specific guidelines. There are state, federal, country, and international regulations that prescribe how these goods should be handled, packaged, and transported. Transportation codes outline the responsibility of carriers or drivers so they can move hazardous materials from one location to another. 

As a hazardous substance transporter, you would need to know and adhere to these laws. Improper handling and transport can result in hefty fines and may even endanger your employees, your customers, or the public. 

The United States Department of Transportation issues guidelines regarding the transport of hazardous materials. For international shipments, the ADR treaty applies to Europe while governing agencies, such as air (IATA), rail (RID), and sea (IMDG), also have their own regulations.

4. Ensure Sufficient Driver Knowledge 

Hazardous materials are commonly transported by land and can carry serious risks. Traveling across distances on roads and highways can endanger other vehicles. This is why transporting hazardous materials requires a competent driver to ensure safe delivery. 

In addition to having a valid Commercial Driver’s License, drivers should also know what’s inside their trailers and how they should handle them. Their driver’s license also indicates the maximum weight for each delivery, and they must adhere to these restrictions.

Besides applicable laws, there are also instances when regulations are amended. Thus, regular training and industry orientations can keep drivers updated regarding new and emerging guidelines. 

5. Use Appropriate Transport Vehicle 

Transport regulations can also determine which vehicles are appropriate for transport. Depending on the volume, this could be trucks, tanks, or wagons suited to the nature of the hazardous materials. To ensure safe transport, they should conform to load limits and weight recommendations.

6. Use Technology To Improve Safety Adherence

The Internet of Things (IoT) has many benefits for the transportation industry. For one, carriers can install technology to make trips smarter and safe. GPS can optimize routes while geo-fencing uses coordinates to capture location. Advanced GPS can even notify you of delays or route deviations. 

IoT also makes driving safer. Forward and side-facing cameras can increase security and can improve freight safety. Equipping trucks and other delivery vehicles with speed limiters and roll stability systems can also help lower road accidents and minimize property and product damage.

Aside from installing devices on the vehicles, forwarders can also monitor driver behavior through safety management technology. Managers can then organize coaching sessions to help drivers develop their decision-making skills during critical events.  

7. Include Safety Equipment  

Information derived from the SDS and product packaging is good at informing concerned individuals about hazardous materials. But precautions should not end there. Trucks, planes, trains, and ships should also carry safety equipment for drivers and other personnel. 

Safety equipment includes adequate PPE such as hard hats, goggles, respirators, and full bodysuits. Drivers should also know how to operate fire extinguishers and other devices, like pneumatic conveying systems rental. As a safety practice, it’s also advisable to have a qualified safety goods adviser on board. 

8. Establish An Incident Management Plan

In addition to having safety equipment onboard, an incident management plan is also crucial when transporting hazardous materials. Carriers can create an incident management team to immediately respond when incidents arise. Their expertise is crucial to minimize impacts to the community and the environment. 

Apart from organized efforts, the incident management team can also coordinate with government efforts to contain large-scale incidents. 

9. Follow Loading And Unloading Procedures

Moving hazardous materials is often a lengthy but straightforward process. It begins with loading the goods onto a carrier and ends when it reaches the intended destination. The Safety Data Sheet is vital in the unloading process since it also dictates how hazardous materials should be stored. Following these guidelines not only ensures efficient delivery but also the safety of the workers who’ll handle the products.


Hazardous materials pose the greatest risk during transport, which is why it requires considerable effort to ensure safe delivery. Whether by land, sea, or air, both carriers and forwarders should follow the suggestions above so they can move dangerous goods without any untoward incidents. 

Sturdy packaging ensures toxic substances are properly contained. An accompanying Safety Data Sheet and placards provide necessary precautions for anyone who comes in contact with the product. Using the proper vehicle and fitting it with devices make deliveries timely and safe. The driver’s ability and knowledge are also a crucial component of safe transport, along with the presence of safety equipment and an incident management plan.

Albert Mason

Albert Mason is a product quality control specialist. He provides helpful advice online through various industry online publications. Albert is married to a nurse with three children. He enjoys woodworking and playing tennis during his free time.

Also Read: 5 Steps to Effectively Diagnose a Hydraulic Problem



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