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Shipping Hazardous Items: What You Need to Know

April 26, 2022 by FreightCenter
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Many important factors go into safely shipping hazardous items. Depending on the freight your small or medium-sized business produces, your shipment may require special shipping needs or will require classification as a hazardous item. Shipping hazardous items is an entirely different scenario than other standard freight pieces. Here’s a breakdown of how to correctly ship hazardous items.

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Classifying Hazardous Freight

The term HAZMAT is an abbreviation for “Hazardous Materials.” The main contrast between hazardous shipping items and other kinds of freight is how it is defined and classified. There are essentially two steps of “classification” for hazardous materials. They include organizing the type of hazardous material and its freight class. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has specific rules for shipping hazmat items. They classify these risky shipments into nine classes:

  •  1: Explosives
  •  2: Gases
  •  3: Flammable and Combustible Liquids
  •  4: Flammable Solids
  •  5: Oxidizing Substances, Organic Peroxides
  •  6: Toxic and Infectious Substances
  •  7: Radioactive Items
  •  8: Corrosives
  •  9: Diverse Hazardous Items
Shipping Hazardous Items: What You Need to Know

Most of these classes also contain class divisions for more specific items. The DOT also provides a Hazardous Materials Markings, Labeling, and Placarding Guide that hazmat shippers should familiarize themselves with. These risky items are also determined by a list of levels. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) rates them here in the U.S. These levels are:

  • Red – Flammable
  • Blue – Health Hazard
  • Yellow – Instability Hazard
  • 4 – Ranges from Lethal to Explosive
  • 3 – Ranges from Permanent Injury to Explodes
  • 2 – Ranges from Temporary Injury to Violent Chemical Change
  • 1 – Ranges from No Hazard to Stable

When it comes to shipping, it’s the freight class that matters.

Freight class is an industry-wide classification system used to standardize freight pricing. Getting your freight class right is a vital step in shipping hazmat items. Using the wrong freight class on any shipment results in costly, needless billing adjustments down the line. To avoid mistakes, your best option is to contact an expert shipping agent. FreightCenter can accurately classify your freight shipments. Using our freight density class calculator is one of the best things you can do to get the correct freight class.

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Packaging and Shipping Hazardous Items

Even the most skillful hazardous item shipper can have trouble with packaging. And when it comes to shipping risky items, securely and adequately packaging your hazmat item shipment is very important. These items include fuels, biochemicals, and pharmaceuticals, among others. Some of the most common hazardous item packaging includes:

  • Corrugated fiberboard box.
  • Drum and Pail.
  • 4GV packaging.
Shipping Hazardous Items: What You Need to Know

The best packaging supplies for shipping hazardous materials depends on your items. For a quick reference into the world of freight packaging, refer to FreightCenter’s Guide to Freight Packaging. This guide will help you further understand different types of packaging and what may work best for your shipment.

Other tasks that go along with packaging your items is providing necessary documentation. A product safety data sheet (SDS) may be required by law for certain hazardous materials. This provides detailed information of potential hazardous chemicals. The description details the physical and chemical properties of the item. It also provides valuable information such as:

  • Toxicity
  • Flash Point
  • Procedures for Spills/Leaks
  • Guidelines for Storage
  • Exposure Control

Many rules apply when shipping hazardous cargo. These rules can include marking and labeling your package and completing the declarations on your paperwork. Rules and regulations can be different by state and amongst the other countries, so be sure to coordinate which state borders you may cross into during transport.

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Shipping Hazardous Items: What Trucks Are Used?

There are a few options when it comes to the transportation of hazardous items. The most common method is to use specially designed trucks or trailers. These vehicles come with custom features that help to control spills and leaks. Tanker trucks are the most common truck used to ship hazardous materials. And while tankers handle most of the work, dry van trailers and reefer trailers also pull their weight. Each trailer type is used regularly to transport items such as wines, spirits, rubbing alcohol, shampoo, and other everyday things. Although they may not seem hazardous to the naked eye, many household items can be classified as hazardous due to their ingredients.

Shipping Hazardous Items: What You Need to Know

Another hazardous material shipping option is using rail cars (trains). Larger than trucks and trailers, they can transport extensive amounts of hazmat. However, they can be more difficult to unload and may require special equipment. Some shippers may even choose to ship hazmat by boat. This mode can be cheap, but shippers can expect delayed arrivals for their goods as boats are the slowest form of freight transport.

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A Shift in Demand

We’ve been noticing businesses that have shifted their creation to making essential items like hand sanitizer. For example, distilleries have begun producing hand sanitizer with their supply chain assets. Hand sanitizer falls under the classification of hazmat. Businesses and organizations that make it will possibly be shipping hazmat items for the first time.

Hand sanitizer is a hot commodity right now. Similar to when the fireworks season starts. Therefore, distributors and supply chain managers must get the solutions they need, especially if they are shipping hazmat items that they are not used to.

That’s where FreightCenter comes in. We have over 20 years of handling hazmat shipments. FreightCenter knows the ins and outs of the business and has the connections shippers need to keep things going. Are you new to shipping hazmat items, or have you done so before? Whether or not, it’s crucial to partner with a freight broker who understands your business and shipping needs. We dedicate ourselves to providing the best results to our shippers, no matter the challenge.

We can help with your hazmat shipments. If you want to speak with one of our experts, call us at 844-212-7447. Get started with a free quote today.

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