Packing hazardous materials – professional advice

Packing is one of those essential steps we tend to forget until the very last minute. It quickly becomes a crucial part of the move. So find yourself reliable movers in time! We have all the rules, tips and tricks necessary for car, airplane, train, or ferry shipping. But it is even more important to learn about packing hazardous materials. This is something you will have to face when you choose to ship since they are not allowed on moving trucks.

Unfortunately, it isn’t as easy as throwing clothes in cardboard boxes. Read on to see why packing hazardous materials is not as straightforward as a “regular” move. There are several steps that need to be taken in order for the relocation to go smoothly. This post will be full of useful information for properly packing hazardous materials. While every single detail cannot be here and some of them you will have to go over with your movers in person, we hope that you will find this article very useful.

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You will want to keep your shipping records for safety and inspection purposes. Since you are dealing with hazmat, you must keep the records for a minimum of three years.

What exactly are hazardous materials?

Hazmat can be defined as an item that can pose a threat to the health and safety of people who are handling them. They will require hiring special moving services. These threats can come in the form of dangerous potential to human health like carcinogenicity. Or they have very risky properties when handling them, like flammability. This definition also includes threats to physical property, the environment, or any other living things other than humans. 

The dangerous material has to be properly protected and maintained before it goes in the packaging

The shipping packaging needs to be made specifically for that material transportation. It has to guarantee safety regardless of the vehicle that will transport the items. Even if the delivery goes smoothly, the recipient must also know how to handle the material safely. Packing hazardous materials safely is a risky process that has very strict rules. These rules exist for a very good reason! This is so because there will be many opportunities in which things can go wrong. Following regulations will be your best moving insurance. For those who choose to ignore these important rules, they may face very high fines and penalties.

What is the shipping company’s responsibility?

The shipper is responsible for packing hazardous materials safely, its classification and identification of the products. Furthermore, the shipping company is also responsible for the labeling, marking, and loading of these items with high standards. There are both international and national regulations that are set in stone. They are there to dictate how hazardous materials are treated. Depending on the level of authority that the shipping company has, they may need to consult professionally trained hazmat personnel to oversee the packing of hazardous materials. They will test the packaging and only then you can get an approval for shipping.

Packing hazardous materials

Read on to find out everything you should know about the necessary packing requirements for hazardous materials. This is very important because the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) classify hazmat into nine separate categories! So check what category your items and products fall in. That is crucial for properly packing hazardous materials. Furthermore, there are three packing groups that further identify hazmat by calculating the risk they carry during transportation. And also on the basis of how much of packaging they might require.

  • Group 1 consists of the items with the highest level of risk, and these items will require extremely protective packaging.
  • Group 3 includes items with the least amount of risk. When you check where your hazmat items belong within these two categories, the classifications will dictate the packing of hazardous materials.
Man dressed in a protective suit for packing hazardous materials
You should make sure to hire movers who have the training to handle packing hazardous materials.

What should my packaging include with respect to marking and labeling?

The marking and labeling of your hazmat’s packing should include a label warning about the hazardous nature of the products. It should be very well visible on the package, with technical names for the material. List the consignor’s full name and complete address, together with the correct shipping name and ID number. Mark any special instructions for handling the package or safely unpacking the dangerous goods. Marks and labels need to be clearly visible, easy to read, and printed on labels that are visible and durable. Regulations require packing hazardous material to be sufficient to ensure containment of the material throughout the entire transportation cycle.

Air shipping

Packing hazardous materials for air shipping is generally more restrictive than for transport on the ground. For air shipment, UPS will require a higher level of safety in terms of creating and packaging. Those regulations have to align with the DOT or IATA because of UPS’s unique system of moving packages. In addition to those rules, all packages that go through UPS for shipment must meet the requirements of the International Safe Transit Association (ISTA) Procedure 3A test protocol.

Two fire extinguishers on a black background
Crates for packing hazmat must pass testing as “specification” or “performance” packages.

What other tips about packing hazardous materials should I keep in mind?

Packing hazardous materials will depend on you following the rules of organizations that have many decades of experience and authority of dealing with hazmat. These regulations have been very successful in improving worker safety to date. They also have passed testing via trial and error. So there is no chance of something going wrong.

Moving companies that have experience in shipping hazmat will provide you with “performance packaging”. Contact Master Moving Guide and we will make sure you find them. These should include inner receptacles, cushioning and absorbent materials. As well as an outer packaging that scientists designed, tested and certified for containing and packing hazardous material. The packages should have distinct United Nations (UN) markings on the packing components.

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