When you shipped or transported packages today, you may not have even considered whether the items inside were hazardous materials. What if one of those packages was not identified as a hazardous material and started a fire, chemically burned a delivery person or exploded? 

You may think that you do not ship hazardous materials, but are you sure? You need to KNOW whether all items shipped are hazardous materials or not. 
Hazardous materials can cause injury, property and environmental damage. Your company could receive fines in addition to bad publicity and lawsuits. You could be fined or be sentenced to serve time in jail.

Ask what is in the package, and develop a checklist of the items that you will not accept, ship or transport. If you ship items, review them periodically to determine if the regulations, carrier restrictions or formulations have changed and affect your shipments. 

Do you know what is in the package? Ask what items are included in the package. Common products that may be hazardous materials are: aerosols, paints, perfumes, lighters, certain types of batteries, fuels, computers or electronic equipment, cleaning compounds, fire extinguishers, compressed gas cylinders, swimming pool chemicals, matches, pesticides, fireworks, ammunition, adhesives, nail polishes, first aid kits and photographic chemicals. These items would need to be investigated to determine how to safely transport.

There could also be clues found on the package to help you recognize a possible hazardous material. Some of these clues are:
•    Hazard class diamond shaped label 
•    Consumer Commodity ORM-D marking on the package
•    Warning statements such as “caution combustible”
•    Frozen or refrigerated – does the package contain dry ice?
•    Name of shipper or consignee – what type of business are they in? 
•    Smells or strong odors, i.e. fuel contained in machinery or parts

Make sure misleading or no longer applicable markings are removed or covered up.

Know what you are shipping before you ship it. Hazardous materials can be a time when what you don’t know could hurt you or someone else.

Ken Holloway is Vice President of Safety Specialists, Inc. and has extensive hazardous materials transportation experiences dating back to 1969. His vast experience includes working with shippers, carriers and trade associations in all phases of hazmat transportation. Safety Specialists, Inc. has been focused on hazardous materials transportation safety training and advising since 1993. It is their goal to assist companies make hazardous materials transportation safe, understandable and efficient. In the months to come, Ken will discuss topics to help you understand what is required, how to comply and how to save money.  Ken can be reached at (704) 573-0955 or ken@hazmathelp.com.