Three of the Most Common Mistakes When Shipping Hazardous Materials

Posted on: 16 April 2015

If your company is responsible for shipping materials that may be hazardous, there's a good chance you're aware of all the regulations and restrictions that go along with this process. It can be incredibly confusing to sort out all the specifics. Unfortunately, it's easy to make a mistake. Here's a look at two of the most common mistakes companies make when shipping hazardous materials and what you can do to avoid them.

Mistake #1: Not Taking into Account All Methods of Transportation

When you ship a chemical, remember that your package may travel via any number of methods, including boat, plain, train, and truck. Unfortunately, each of these methods brings their own standards and regulations. For instance, a substance may not be regulated when it's shipped on the ground, but it requires paperwork when it's shipped via plane. Check beforehand to ensure you've got everything in line.

Not only are there different federal and local standards between these methods, but there are physical differences that need to be taken into account as well. A package that travels via air may encounter much lower temperatures than one on the ground, while a package that sits in a truck can become very overheated. Unusually hot or cold weather can impact not only your substance, but the container that it's in. A cold container can become brittle while a hot one could actually melt. Make sure that your packaging can handle any environment. Don't assume that your package will be shipped via a certain method based on the distance it's going.

Mistake #2: Not Anticipating Returns

Oftentimes, a company will have an employee handling a hazardous package that has no idea about the contents. Usually, this is someone like a warehouse worker or a receptionist that just accepts a package and sends it along to the appropriate person. But if a return is needed, that package may find its way back to the untrained employee who doesn't realize that it's hazardous and ships it via a traditional method. Now, this employee is responsible should anything go wrong during transport.

Make sure that all employees in your company are trained in how to handle a package with hazardous materials. Take everyone into consideration, including someone who may sign for a package, someone who may move a package from one building to another, or someone who takes the outgoing mail to the post office.

Of course, even if you take these mistakes into account, shipping hazardous material is still a very complicated process. That's why it's best to make sure your company stays on top of the current regulations and best practices. Regular compliance training is probably the best way to make sure you're shipping your packages the safest way possible. Making sure you're aware of the most current information is one of the most important things you can do for your company. For more information, talk to a professional like Environmental Hazmat Services Inc.