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Better Safe Than Sorry: 4 Things to Know If Your Company Is Shipping Hazardous Materials

Some substances and items need to be handled carefully, especially if they are being moved from place to place. The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) enforces laws and regulations dictating how hazardous materials must be shipped.

If your company needs to arrange such a shipment, you must make sure to comply with all of these rules. Fail to do so, and your business could be held liable, even if it delegates the work to another party.

Fortunately, shipping hazardous materials do not need to be complicated or fraught with such dangers. Keep the following four facts in mind and you will be able to arrange shipments that arrive safely and remain in compliance with all the relevant regulations.

1. You Will Need Material-Specific Packaging

Materials officially designated as hazardous range quite widely with regard to their characteristics and the dangers they present. Packaging needs to account for all the relevant specifics in ways that will prevent related problems from arising.

Fortunately, companies like the one online at clsmith.com make it easy to obtain whatever sort of packaging might be needed. From boxes that accommodate cans filled with hazardous materials to special cartons for batteries, it should never be a problem to acquire appropriate packaging.

The type of packaging that will be needed for a particular shipment will most often be indicated by the DOT classification of the material in question. How that hazardous material will be held within a package will also generally be relevant.

2. Packages Need to be Labeled Clearly

Even though DOT-approved packaging reduces the risks associated with shipping hazardous materials, every such shipment needs to be labelled appropriately. Once again, there is a long list of labels and placards that can be required to comply with DOT regulations.

Those informational and cautionary features also need to be positioned in accordance with established guidelines. Failing to ensure that a package ends up with the required hazardous material labelling can subject your business to fines and other sanctions.

3. Documentation is Not Optional

In addition to doing everything possible to protect hazardous material shipments while in transit, DOT regulations are crafted to enable plenty of traceability and accountability. Almost every shipment containing hazardous materials has to be documented comprehensively using established, official forms and procedures.

Completing the necessary documentation can require collecting information that might not be readily available. In some cases, though, apparent difficulties can be chalked up to minor discrepancies between systems. Where hazardous material forms ask for a UN number, for instance, the DOT number used to determine the appropriate type of packaging will generally be identical.

4. Use an Appropriate Carrier

Once a package has been prepared and documented, it will still be necessary to choose a carrier who is equipped to handle hazardous shipments.

That requires certification and the use of special processes for each recognized class of hazardous shipments. The selection of a carrier should be taken as seriously as any other step in the process of shipping hazardous materials. As noted previously, any mistakes the carrier might make can end up exposing a business to liability.

Keep these four requirements in mind when making arrangements to ship hazardous materials, and you should never run into problems. Even materials that are especially dangerous can be shipped safely by those who abide by all the established guidelines.

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