Guide to Shipping Hazardous Materials: Identifying and Managing Undeclared and Hidden Hazards

At Mercury, we understand the importance of ensuring safe and compliant transportation of all goods. To help our clients we have put together some information on shipping with Dangerous Goods (DG).

About Dangerous Goods/Hazardous Materials

Dangerous goods (DG), also referred to as hazardous materials, are articles or substances that pose risks to health, safety, property, or the environment. They fall under the dangerous goods hazard classes specified in the IATA DG regulations. DGs can be explosive, flammable, toxic, corrosive, oxidizing, or pose other risks when improperly handled or transported. Examples of hazardous materials include chemicals, gases, liquids, solids, and biological substances among others.

International Shipping Regulations for Dangerous Goods

It is crucial that your company complies with international shipping regulations. The International Air Transport Association (IATA), the International Maritime Organization (IMO), and other regulatory entities such as Department of Transportation (D.O.T.) have implemented comprehensive guidelines and mandates to ensure the secure handling and transportation of hazardous materials. Through its Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR), IATA sets standards and provides guidelines. 

When shipping via air, you must adhere to all IATA regulations and guidelines to ensure the safe handling and transportation and storage of hazardous materials. Failing to declare or conceal dangerous goods as hazardous materials can lead to accidents, fires, or other incidents as these goods pose a potential risk to the health, safety, and environment due to their hazardous properties, such as flammability, toxicity, explosiveness, or corrosiveness.  

It is essential for every employee involved with shipping to familiarize themselves with these important regulations. 

Hazardous materials are subject to legal regulations in most countries, with each nation having its own specific set of rules and enforcement practices. The UN Model Regulations serve as a foundation for many countries' regulations concerning the transportation of hazardous materials. However, some countries may adopt different versions of these regulations so make sure to familiarize yourself with these to avoid any potential issues with your shipment. 

What Happens if You Fail to Disclose Hazardous Materials

Failing to declare hazardous materials in a shipment can result in severe penalties and legal consequences. Violators may face hefty fines, imprisonment, or both, depending on the jurisdiction and the extent of the violation. If you are new to shipping dangerous goods, we urge you to work directly with an experienced logistics provider such as Mercury. 



Preparing Your Shipment That Contains Hazardous Materials

Steps to ensure safe shipments containing hazardous materials.

9 Hazardous Materials Classes for Shipping

Nine Hazardous Materials Shipping Classes

Let's take a look at the nine different dangerous goods classes with examples of each.

Best Practices on Shipping Hazardous Materials

Best Practices for Shipping Hazardous Materials

We have put together a few recommendations on how to ensure your employees grasp the process of shipping dangerous goods.

About Safety Data Sheets

Safety Data Sheets (SDS), formerly known as Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), are required when shipping hazardous materials as these sheets contain vital information about the chemical properties, handling procedures, and emergency response measures. 

An SDS also outlines the necessary steps for handling, storing, and disposing of these materials. With an SDS, shippers, carriers, customs officials, and recipients of the shipment have access to accurate and up-to-date information about the materials they are handling. In most cases, you can get the SDA directly from the manufacturer's website.

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