What You Need to Know About Shipping Hazardous Materials


Do you know that dry shampoo, nail polish, hair spray, perfumes, things that you need in your everyday lives, are labeled as dangerous goods by the Canadian government and the authorities worldwide?

Well, they are. And if you’re planning to sell these products online, you must know that shipping these hazardous materials comes with many challenges. 

You need to manage many risks when transporting and handling these products. If you’re a merchant, you might not need to worry about them. But if you’re a product manufacturer, you must develop an entire shipping strategy. 

But to get started, let us first get the basics covered. 

HAZMAT shipping: What you need to know

Hazmat is a term created from “hazardous materials”. Hazmat shipping consists of a list of protocols you need to follow when shipping and handling these goods to minimize risks. 

Classes of Hazmat materials

The regulations define nine classes of hazardous materials.

Class 1: Explosives 

Class 1 contains chemically volatile products that explode under certain conditions. They are divided into six divisions and include products such as airbag inflators, fireworks, gun powder, ammunition, and seat belt pretensioners. 

Class 2: Gases

Class 2 products contain dangerous gases that are detrimental to the health if inhaled and hazardous to the surface if they make contact. The class has four divisions covering goods ranging from spray cosmetics and bathroom sprays to fire extinguishers. 

Class 3: Flammable Liquids

Class 3 contains liquids that inflame when coming into contact with fire. These include products such as gasoline, oil-based paints, paint thinner, and varnish. 

Class 4: Flammable Solids

Class 4 contains solid products that ignite when coming into contact with fire. It is further categorized into three divisions that include products ranging from sulfur to sodium batteries.

Class 5: Oxidizers/organic peroxides

Class 5 contains products that are readily oxidized, combusting easily. It has two divisions, including products ranging from nitrate fertilizers to sodium nitrate.

Class 6: Toxic and infectious substances 

Class 6 contains products capable of causing death or long-term illnesses in humans if ingested or inhaled. Two divisions of products come under this category, which includes biomedical wastes, nicotine, pesticides, and arsenic.

Class 7: Radioactive materials

Class 7 contains products that can give off ionizing radiation and have specific gravity exceeding 0.002 micrograms. 

Class 8: Corrosives

Class 8 contains products that can corrode human skin or any other surface they touch. Drain cleaner, paint stripper, NiCad batteries, mercury thermometer, etc., fall under the Class 8 Hazmat.

Class 9: Miscellaneous Hazmat

This class covers products that are hazardous during shipping but can’t be classified into the above classes. They include dry ice, vehicles, first-aid kits, and Lithium-ion batteries. 


Regulators of Hazmat shipping

Three regulatory bodies oversee the shipping of hazardous materials:

  1. Transportation of Dangerous Goods (TDG) regulates hazmat transportation in Canada. 
  2. The International Maritime Dangerous Goods code regulates hazardous material shipping by sea. 
  3. ICAO/IATA (International Civil Aviation Organization/International Air Transport Association) regulates the transportation of hazardous materials by air. 


Risks of shipping hazardous materials correctly

Hazardous materials pose an immense threat to human health and the environment. Since hazmat shipping comes under strict regulations, not following the protocols invites heavy penalties. 

In case you’re found to contravene the terms of TDG, you can be charged with

  1. $50k penalty for the first offense
  2. $100,000 for subsequent offenses
  3. And up to 2 years in prison for offenses that can indict you. 


Who must comply with the TDG regulations?

Following are the groups who must comply with the regulations as far as the Transport of Dangerous Goods Regulation is concerned. 

  1. Consignor: The person who ships the dangerous goods is the consignor
  2. Consignees: The one who receives the dangerous goods from the consigner is the consignee
  3. Carrier: The one who has the responsibility to transport the hazardous material.

However, among the above, it is mostly the consignor ( or shipper) who must adhere to the provisions of the TDG act. 


The key elements of TDG regulations that every shipper must keep in mind?

The entities mentioned above need to follow the following regulations:

  1. Training 
  2. Classification
  3. Document Preparation
  4. Using Dangerous Goods Safety Markings to specify that they are hazardous in nature
  5. Selecting the correct containment unit to store the products while they are being shipped
  6. ERAP (Emergency Response Assistance Plan) when required
  7. Reporting Incidences

Steps that shippers must take when shipping hazardous materials

Following are the steps a consignor must take when shipping hazardous materials:

  1. Training the employees and issuing the TDG certification before giving them hazardous goods to handle. 
  2. Make sure that the person classifying the product has received TDG training.
  3. Ensure that a competent person – one who has been TDG-trained – is selecting the containment unit for shipping. 
  4. Make sure that a TDG- trained individual selects the labels and placards to place on the containment units. 
  5. Ensure that a person with TDG training prepares all the shipping documents and other paperwork, including the Emergency Response Assistance Plan. 
  6. Finally, ensure the shipping documents with the hazardous materials are correct.

Training to Ship Hazardous Materials

When it comes to training the personnel to handle hazardous materials, you can’t just pick anyone at random. The TDG Directorate has provided a list of organizations that offer training for handling and shipping dangerous goods. 

There are only a few external trainers that you can trust.

Global HazMat is a team of consultants that provides training for Transportation of Dangerous Goods, Workplace Hazardous Material Information Systems, Spill Management, Hazardous Waste, and Chemical Safety. Our team has been instrumental in training many organizations with its company-specific, environmentally sound, thorough, and compliant approach. We go one step further and also deliver consultation services that include auditing, Hazmat and dangerous goods packaging, classification & SDS services, and more. Reach out to us to get started and attain a global presence through compliance.